Wednesday, 10 January 2018

(vol 5) CHAPTER 01: "Reads of 2017"

I love to read.

For years now I've found little bits of free time (lunch breaks, train commutes) and used it to get through a good book. 

Sometimes it can take a month to finish a read (Wheel Of Time books are huge!), while other books can take just a day.

Last year I managed 38 books. Some of these are immediately on my all times greatest list, while others . . . well let's just say I didn't enjoy them.

From the 38 I finished in 2017, I've picked my favourite 10.



SLADE HOUSE (David Mitchell)
This one surprised me. After really not enjoying CLOUD ATLAS I can't say why I picked up another book by David Mitchell. But I'm glad I did. This ghost story told over decades had me hooked from the first chapter and, as it fed tidbits of history for the house and it's residents, I couldn't stop, so eager was I to unravel the mystery and find out just what the hell was going on. 



THICKER THAN WATER (Mike Carey)
The Felix Castor novels pull of a neat trick of having self-contained stories but with a slow burning over-riding arc sitting quietly in the back ground. Book 4 ends on an awesome cliffhanger related to this arc that has me desperate to read the final book, but I've enjoyed this series at a leisurely pace so I won't rush it. 




KINGS OF THE WYLD (Nicolas Eames)
The cover for this novel pulled me in and the blurb completed the sale. This fantasy novel uses the twist of having fellowships be more like rock bands and it works so well. The story doesn't go for big evil and ancient artifact cliches. Instead it's a simple quest where the heroes are brought out of retirement for one last adventure. 



NOS 4R2 (Joe Hill)
While Joe Hill doesn't have the substantial back catalogue of his more prolific father, he does have (in my opinion) a 100% hit rate with the few novels he's released. This is a vampire story at it's core, but Joe Hill uses a style similar to his father where the story of the characters themselves is more interesting than the 'plot' of the novel. As we follow reluctant hero Victoria McQueen it's easy to forget you're in a horror story instead of just following her failure of a life. I don't think I've ever cheered for such a down beaten character so much as I did for Vic McQueen.



IT (Stephen King)
I've read the DARK TOWER, and I read THE STAND, but I was always nervous about starting IT. Not because of the horror rumoured to be contained within, or the epic page count, but because it was one of Kings best known and much loved novels and I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. Well, boy did it. As with the very best of King's output, IT has a 'plot' ticking over nicely, but it's the characters themselves that carried me through this book. I could read a book ten times longer just filled with the lives of the Losers Club and not be bored. 



A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS (Keith Stuart)
I knew going into this that it was going to be a tough read as my own son is autistic, but this beautiful debut from games columnist Keith Stuart is such a touching tale of a father and son finding something unique to bring them together, that even with the slightly cliched ending, it had seeing my own son in a new light. It doesn't hurt that my boy loves Minecraft too.  



KILLING IS MY BUSINESS (Adam Christopher)
I've enjoyed reading Adam Christopher's books since I got an e-reader back in 2012. When the short story BRISK MONEY came out a few years ago I was instantly enthralled by the tale of the worlds last robot who works as a hitman (with the cover of being a private eye) in 50's LA. The short story was followed by the first in a trilogy, MADE TO KILL, staring protagonist Ray Electromatic, but it's the second book of the trilogy, KILLING IS MY BUSINESS that really builds the world and starts hinting at a secret soon to be revealed (book 3 is out this July).



ANIMAL FARM (George Orwell)
I've been getting into a few of the classics this year and finally got around to George Orwell's masterpieces. While I did like 1984, it was ANIMAL FARM that presented the darker story as revolution becomes dictatorship in this allegory of Stalin's Soviet Union.



DEVIL MAY CARE (Johnny B Truant & Sean Platt)
Johnny and Sean are legends in the indie community and I've enjoyed a lot of their eclectic output since discovering them back in 2013. While most of their work revolves around book series, they occasionally take on 'money losers' with what they describe as 'artist efforts'. DEVIL MAY CARE is one such a project. Without spoiling too much, the story tells the tale of Cooper Bishop who, bored with his life, heads across America to the land of opportunity. This is no road trip, however, but a story about being an author and why we write, as we follow Cooper's life as it runs parallel with the novel he's writing. Great characters and a clever story.



ON WRITING (Stephen King)
Since taking writing more seriously back in 2013, I've made the effort to read ON WRITING every December as the year comes to an end. Part mini biopic (it mainly deals with the parts of King's life that affected his author career), and part teaching tool, the book it a good read for both writers in training and King fans who just like to read a great tale.



See you in seven

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

(vol 5) PROLOGUE: "Love It When A Plan . . ."

The last 18 months saw me fall down and hide away from writing.

Feeling like I didn't have the right to talk about writing and publishing a book with nothing to back it up, I began to feel like a fraud. I stopped blogging and instead got to work on actually doing something about it. But I did it from the shadows, in secret. 

There were several false starts following my June 2016 shutdown, but I managed to finally accomplish my goal when I looked at existing work and used three years worth of Flash Fiction to produce a collection. 

BRISK WORLDS has been out since September 2017 and it taught me a hell of a lot about self publishing. Which was something I needed. And now I feel like I can call myself a writer and I can talk about things based on fact.

But producing just one book was never the goal. Now that I'm over that hurdle that had been holding me back, I need to build on what I have learnt and get on with more. Because now my fear is getting to this time next year and BRISK WORLDS still being the only published work with my name on the cover.

Here's what I've got in mind.

-*-

THE ONE ABOUT THE ANGRY GUY

The first part of my plan is finishing and releasing the RAGE HARD trilogy. Three novella's following the adventures of Benjamin Brown who, after being attacked by a strange creature, finds his temper gives him new found abilities and a fearsome new look. 

The plan is to get these released first half of 2018, each novella coming out a month apart in e-book form. Once all three are out, then the trilogy will be collected as a single paperback.



THE ONE ABOUT THE SUPERHERO

The second half of the year will be about releasing my first full novel. Currently the plan is to take SUPERGOD, my 2017 NaNoWriMo project, and work on this while RAGE HARD is out with betas. It's still in scrappy first draft and needs a lot of work, but a year contains a lot of writing hours if you're honest with yourself and know where to find them (not on my Xbox, that's for sure).



THE ONE THAT DOESN'T EXIST YET

The two projects above will be enough for me, but following the last few Novembers, I'm looking forward to once again taking part in NaNoWriMo and seeing what happens. I won't have a project planned for some time yet, but something always grabs my attention during October. What ever comes out will hopefully be good enough to be a 2019 project.



THE ONE WITH THE UTOPIA

And if that isn't enough, I had an epiphany regarding last years failed project UTOPIA FOR PEARS. A little part of me wanted to place SUPERGOD to one side, but I don't want to be all indecisive and changing things around unnecessarily. So the other two projects are priorities, but UPTOPIA FOR PEARS has become my extra project. Like when you take a book to the doctors, just in case there's a long wait. UTOPIA FOR PEARS is something to focus on if there is free time. And if nothing happens with it then it will be first in line for 2019.

-*-

And that's all for now. 2017 saw me release one collection. Now I'm upping the game with three novellas and one novel. Fingers crossed as always.

Good luck with all of your writing projects for 2018. May my books follow your books on their way up to the top of the charts. 

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

(vol 4) EPILOGUE: "Back On Track - A Look Back At 2017"

So the year that was 2017 has come to a close. I've seen some awesome (and some not-so-awesome) movies, my personal life has taken a bit of a kicking, and once again I've reached the end of a year I'm mostly happy to see the back of.

But my writing life? That came back with gusto.



FIRST QUARTER



Writing: 

The year started where 2016 left off; no blogging,  just daily entries for the FlashDog's #VSS365 project and working on UTOPIA FOR PEARS

With the NaNoWriMo 2016 draft printed off and last December's notes collected, it was time to read through the novel and start finding the story so I could begin working on draft two. At least that was the plan.

It started well enough as I got up early in the mornings a couple of times a week, leaving the wife and child asleep upstairs. I'd read a couple of chapters, red pen at the ready for glaring mistakes, full of thoughts for character and plotting. But when I finished I was having a major issue with the ending as it tied itself up several times and began to feel like it wasn't working.

I decided to put it away. UTOPIA FOR PEARS is still on the agenda, but it was holding me back, so I moved on.

As a side project, I started a story using a diary I'd received for Christmas (see last post). While I don't really write down things myself, I thought it would be interesting to write entries as a character. I picked one out of my story notes that I thought would work and started his story, but unfortunately the daily entries started getting missed when life got in the way and suddenly I was a couple of weeks behind. Another writing project started and ended (or was it?). 

Meanwhile, David Shakes' INFERNAL CLOCK project entered it's final stage and was released into the world, both e-book and paperback. My story DELAYED was included which was my first attempt at horror writing since the 80's when I wrote HOUSE OF HELL and the ten part epic CHILDREN OF DEATH saga (I was about 10 at that time and the stories mostly contained gory deaths of one-dimensional characters - you know, because I was ten).



Films: 

Movie wise the year started off really well. LOGAN was the X-Men film I'd been waiting for since before Bryan Singer's 2000 effort. I'm a massive X-Men fan (as the 2000+ comic collection will attest). It was gritty, real world action, with a sadness to it unexpected from 'comic book movies'. And a perfect swansong for the character as Hugh Jackman's final go at the role.

Once that was out of the way it was onto the craziness that was KONG: SKULL ISLAND. Sticking the super aggressive ape in a 60's setting and amping up his size (just a little) set the scene for a movie that, perhaps should have been brainless, but instead knew what it was and had fun with it. And while the human cast are mostly outshone by the CGI headliner (except Craig C Reilly), its good all round action awesomeness.


Personal:

Two words; Kidney and Stones. I've had dealings with these before, but nothing as bad as the last week of March 2017 when I had to take time off from work and eventually get taken to hospital. On the plus side, I learned that I drink too many fizzy drinks, not enough water, and codeine makes everything feel great. A little lifestyle change later (plus CT scans and my first suppository) and things are a little better. Needless to say, I did very little writing during this period.




SECOND QUARTER


Writing:

With UTOPIA FOR PEARS falling by the wayside, the only writing I was getting done at this point was the #VSS365 project on twitter. I was losing the umph to write anything at this time and didn't know where I was going next.

And then on the 13th April I opened up a Google doc while stuck on a train and began writing what was to become book 1 of the RAGE HARD trilogy.

The story of a young guy attacked and infected, left with the ability to channel his anger and change himself into a literal raging beast, RAGE has changed slightly over the months. From it's 'journal' beginnings, I found it wasn't it's own stand alone story, with rewrites bending to produce its now trilogy form.


Films:

When I was younger, my love of comic books was part of what made me a geeky outsider. Back then it was only the Christopher Reeves SUPERMAN films and Michael Keaton BATMAN films that were classed as 'okay'. When it came to superhero movies, there wasn't really much else.

Flash forward to 2017 and the second of seven comic movies I would see in this year alone was hitting the cinemas. And talk about left field. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 was now a mainstream superhero movie that your grandmother would be able to hold a conversation about. 

Back in 2014 The Guardians were unknown to all but an avid few, and they were a big gamble for MARVEL to take. Now though, the team dubbed 'Avengers In Space' are all household names. And this sequel is everything I expected and then some. More laughs, more action, more colours (!), Guardians 2 is a worthy sequel.

The surprise movie of 2017 for me was COLOSSAL. The original trailer had me intrigued, but with rising cinema prices, and a busy slate for this year already, I didn't think I'd get a chance. And then some free tickets fell into my lap.

It's disappointing just how underrated this film was (me and my friend were the only two in the screening!). It looks silly, but contains a serious message and gets quite dark in the second half. I highly recommend.

And to round out the first six months is another superhero movie and another surprise hit. It's no secret that DC are struggling to play catch up to the awesome and superior MARVEL movies but WONDER WOMAN was their first real win (though I really like MAN OF STEEL). Offering a more optimistic hero, and really letting her be more than a one dimensional token female, Wonder Woman just works as an introduction to a truly powerful character.


Personal:

April and May were two of the darkest for me in a long, long time (which probably explains the more aggressive nature of RAGE's first draft). With problems in my own personal life, and then the passing of a good, good friend of mine, I probably wasn't the best person to be around back then. Things are better now, but (despite the return to writing and some good films) April and May will not be fondly remembered.




THIRD QUARTER




Writing:

Heading into the second half of the year I had no idea of the big step I was about to make. Frustrated with still not having anything released after being in my forth year of trying, a swift random decision escalated very quickly into my published collection of flash Fiction; BRISK WORLDS. It was hard work as I threw myself into it with gusto. I learnt formatting, Kindle, and basic cover design, all in the space of weeks. The eBook hit shelves early September. Woo hoo!

And with a published project at last, I thought it was also a good time to return to blogging. If I'm honest I really missed it, so much so that I've managed to crank it back up to weekly for the foreseeable future. I feel like I've got shit to blog about now, with knowledge of what it actually takes. I knew I couldn't carry on talking about a process I was only seeing from the outside. But now I'm a doer and so I'm back.

#VSS365 came to the end of it's first full year on September 5th and I was proud to say I had posted for every single one of them. It was a great idea by METROPOLITAN DREAMS author Mark A King, and although he's stepped away from it on it's anniversary, a couple of FlashDogs jumped in to take over (because that's the kind of people the FlashDogs are). Due to the fact that I'm now rolling with bigger works and stepping away from Flash Fiction, I've stopped taking part (if I did even one, my compulsive side would need to carry on for another year), but I still keep tabs and have some very interesting and amusing reads throughout my day.


Movies:

Geek me was looking forward to the tail end of summer cinema. However, while my writing went from bad to awesome, films went the other way; starting high and ending quickly in disappointment.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING was the most impressive in this quarter. Better than MARVEL promised, it was a return to form for SONY's flagship character that fell from grace after the disappointing SPIDER-MAN 3. Iron-Man didn't out stay his welcome, the effects were impressive, and the story was busy in a good way, unlike the villain filled efforts that had come before.

Unfortunately that was all she wrote, because next up was THE DARK TOWER, a film based on my favourite book series of all time. I had such high hopes for it at every step of it's production. But when it was finally released, it couldn't hide the mess that it was. I offer that someone who has not read Stephen King's magnum opus may enjoy it more, but for me it was a rushed, poorly written adaptation of a far superior source material. I will say that almost all of the actors were on form though (Jake's best friend was the only poor performance).

Weeks before THE DARK TOWER I was aware that it might be a flop. KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, however, caught me blindsided. The first film was a surprise hit, much like Guardians 1. Many people aren't even aware that the series is based on a comic book. Building on the success of the first should have been simple, but as the film carried on, my excitement drained and I began asking questions of the plot, characters, and pretty much everything else. I was cheering at the opening action sequence, but by the last third I was just a little meh.


Personal:

Things were turning around a little. A trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed was a highlight and a much wanted tick off the old bucket list for me and Mrs C. Not a bad way to celebrate our 10th anniversary. 




FOURTH QUARTER



Writing:

Getting BRISK WORLDS published on Kindle was cool, but there is nothing like that feeling when you're finally holding a physical version of your works. After releasing the eBook in September, I dived straight back into the project and worked on the paperback version for October. 

And on top of that, I also branched into Kobo for the first time too. With my KU 90 days finished in December, and no real benefits seen, I was eager to get my book on my e-reader of choice. 

Finally, a year review wouldn't be the same without a November full of NaNoWriMo. 

2017 saw my complete my greatest NaNo ever. I broke all my personal records with highest word count (83,302), my highest word count in one day (8114), and finishing the earliest (17th).

The story itself is a mess, born from an earlier attempt and blooming almost uncontrollably into something involving God, super powers, aliens, the President, and a Southampton video store. But I see the story in there and I already know what to cut and where to add. And if all goes well, which I'm very confident it will, this book should be out in the second half of next year. My first full novel release.



Films:

I'm a BIG fan of the MARVEL films, and completely respect what they've managed to pull off with their multi film franchise. But despite my passion for anything with the word MARVEL before it, Thor has always been the runt of the litter. The first film was good, but didn't lean enough on the fish-out-of-water comedy that was it's highlight. And the less said about the bore-fest that was THE DARK WORLD the better. 

RAGNAROK, however, plays to the actors and characters strengths, and it is a truly action packed and hilarious movie. It plays with it's colours and music to perfection, giving the film it's unique (in the MCU at least) feel, placing it closer to the Guardians films than anything like Captain America or Iron Man. 

Earlier this year I missed out on re-releases of TERMINATOR 2 and ROBOCOP on the big screen, arguably two of the most iconic action films of all time. I wouldn't make that mistake a third time when my all time favourite 80's action movie, PREDATOR came to town for it's 30th anniversary. And it turned out that not only the film was epic that night; just getting there was a mini adventure.

The film itself was glorious. Still my favorite, and a hundred times more enjoyable on the big screen with the soundtrack, alien clicks, and worlds greatest quotes booming out of speakers that put my TV to shame. PREDATOR is a master class in characters, tension, and action.

And to end on a high, due to the lights coming up ten minutes early (though it didn't really ruin the film) we all got refunds. Nice.

Following two great films, JUSTICE LEAGUE had a hell of a challenge to make it three for three. Unfortunately, due to Warner Bros meddling, a director switch out, lazy acting, and a rogue mustache, the film was already crippled before the lights went down.

JUSTICE LEAGUE isn't a terrible film, but it's frustrating seeing the potential just below the surface and knowing that it could have been amazing if the right people only cared enough instead of chasing the buck in lazy imitation. The whole film was just 'Meh'. 


So it was left to Disney again to finish the year on a high and they didn't disappoint. 

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI picks up right where THE FORCE AWAKENS left off. The film has divided the geek community, but I was one of the few that thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Sure it was different, but the people moaning about these changes where the same people moaning that the previous film was too much of an homage to the original trilogy. 

I guess you can't please everyone.


Personal:

I've been following the NFL since a work colleague got me into it back in 2011. I had family in Philadelphia at the time, so I made myself an Eagles fan.

Being on this side of the pond, and with no near future plans to travel to the States, seeing a game live was always a stretch. That is until my sister-in-law got tickets for one of the London games.

The atmosphere was awesome, with fans from all 32 teams milling around and being pretty damned polite. The game itself was a good one, with current underdogs the Cleveland Browns hosting the Minnesota Vikings. Based on the last couple of season, the Browns should have lost (Spoiler; they did) but they put up a hell of a fight and surprised everyone by not only scoring first, but keeping it tight through the second and third quarter.

Will definately go again.



Round Up:

And  that is my 2017. A tough year in parts, but the highlight of finally self-publishing can't be over looked. This year was just about getting a finished product out in the wild with me as the sole creator. 

Next year will be more about getting multiple products done on time scales. I'm moving from hobby to business, slowly but surely. I'm still not confident to put work up as pre-order as some fellow indie-authors do, but I'm going to work hard to get them done to the plan.

Fingers crossed my personal life bucks up, the films get better (more Marvel and more Star Wars on the way!), and most importantly, my personal bookshelf gets bigger.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 16: "What Is RAGE?"

With BRISK WORLDS out there earning it's keep, it's time to look at what's next for Channel 79 Books.

As I've mentioned several (like, a million!) times, I've started a lot of projects. And over the years I've wanted them all to be 'the one'. Well my collection of Flash Fiction ended up being the first one out the door, and while I'm proud of it and all that it has taught me about the process, it's time to get on with something a little grander.

Unintentionally following Craig Anderson's process with his LUCKY BEGGAR trilogy (check it out here), I'm in the process of finishing up the RAGE HARD trilogy; three novellas that follow Benjamin Brown as he discovers strange powers that turn his life upside-down. 




The project really got started Christmas 2016 when I received a diary as a present. I've never really used one to write anything down before and wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. But then I had the idea of recording a characters thoughts and feelings instead. I browsed my notebooks and discovered Benjamin's story would work pretty good in journal form.

It went well for a few weeks but it became a struggle to write every day. Sometimes Ben didn't have anything to say. Sometimes real life blocked out the imaginary one. Then a day or two turned into a week or two, and the project fell by the wayside (a common theme with me, I hear the audience shout). 

Thankfully it wasn't dead; it was just changing.



'Tim Bisley' artwork from SPACED

The next step in the project's journey was a boring train journey where I'd not brought a book to read. I opened my phone and decided to start a Google Doc story to occupy myself. Benjamin's story waved it's hands and grabbed my attention so I started writing down what I could remember from the diary. 

Slowly at first, but picking up pace as it went, Benjamin's story grew and grew until I had a pretty decent 25,000 word first draft done. But when I reached the ending, I didn't feel like the story was really finished. Questions were unanswered and Benjamin had another tale to tell. 

Or two, as it turned out.



Joe Madureira artwork from BATTLECHASERS

I was half way into book 2, when I saw the bigger picture. I stopped with half the second novella done and went back to book 1, working away at setting more stuff up and laying the trail for books 2 and 3. Then I opened up a blank spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets!) and planned a trilogy.

It sounds messy with starts and restarts, but it's grown quite organically and changed where and when it's needed to. I'm quite proud of the story as a whole. I thought at one stage to make it a single, novel length book, but it does make more sense as three parts to the overall tale, and you'll see this once all three are released.

I hope to get the books all done before I begin releasing the trilogy, perhaps a month or so apart. I want to keep them fresh and have readers eager for the next and not forgetting about them.



Michael Turner artwork from RED HULK

So, with 2017 coming to a close, this is what I'm looking forward to in 2018. I always said that I needed that first project out of the way, the hurdle cleared, the wall smashed through, and then the next project and the next would become a little easier. 

Well it feels like that. And I have a plan for the year, which is also good. Instead of 'have a book out before the end of the year', it's now become 'have project one done in first half and project two done in second half'. A production line. 

Channel 79 Books is under way.

How about you guys? Are you planning to wing it for next year, or do you have specific projects set for specific release dates already? As always, let me know how you're doing in the comments below or on twitter (@BrianSCreek).

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 15: "Other Platforms"

One of the many decisions an author makes when releasing a book is what platform you're going to release on.



For e-books the big choice that most default to is Kindle (Amazon), and with good cause; they are the biggest seller of e-books without a doubt. When you say 'e-reader' to Joe Bloggs on the street, most people will just assume you're talking about a Kindle device, not realising that there are other brands out there. 



But the choice of platform comes down to two simple choices; go wide, or go with the biggest bite of the pie.

Despite what people think, there are other ways to read e-books without passing through Amazon's gargantuan eco-system. I myself have been a proud Kobo reader since 2012. And while Apple don't have a specific device themselves, a lot of people have i-phones which can be used via the i-books app. Goggle Books are the same.

But Amazon has an ace up it's sleeve; Kindle Unlimited. 



While you could sell your book for an upfront price like the other venders, Kindle Unlimited (or KU) follows the subscription style, much like Netflix or an Odeon cinema pass. You pay a block fee and have access to read as many books as you can.

On the other end of the process, the author gets paid not in an upfront lump sum, but at the end of the month based on the number of pages readers read. It's all worked out very technically (Amazon have a formula that normalises pages so large fonts don't benefit) using a pot of money divided by KU authors then divided by page reads.

The down side to this option is that Amazon want you all in. If you want the benefits of KU (and for better selling authors with lots of books I assume it can pay quite well) you cannot put you book up anyway else. No Kobo, no i-books, no Google. Once in, you are tied to Amazon and KU for 90 days.





I only have one book at the moment and it's never going to be a big big seller. Flash Fiction collections just don't have the pull of novella's and full blown novels. But I went in on KU for the first 90 days of sale because, quite honestly, I didn't have anything to loose. People could still buy for £1.99 if they didn't have KU membership so I wasn't limited to people only in the program. And because Createspace, one of the two most well used ways of going 'Print On Demand', is owned by Amazon, I was still able to release the paperback version of BRISK WORLDS back in October without breaking the rules.

But benefit me it has not. And my 90 days ended two days ago.

I chose not to remain and am now working on option two; going wide.




Three months since BRISK WORLDS was released, you can now buy it on Kobo. This is a particularly special moment for me as my Kobo device is my preferred method of e-reading (sorry other e-book apps).

BRISK WORLDS still won't be a big seller but it's nice to have my work out there on two different ecosystems. It was a simple process of just taking the word doc prepped for Kindle and uploading it to Kobo's site. 

They say on their web page that it's easy to get started as an indie author, and they're not wrong. Obviously the hard work of formatting was done back in September, but from logging on to pressing publish took me about 20 mins. That's really quite remarkable, to know that technology is at a point where you can put your work out there that quickly.



So that's not a bad way to end 2017. I have my first published work done, available in two e-reading formats and also as a paperback (the real dream!).

Now I'm looking at 2018 and planning on doing it all over again.

Let me know your own self publishing stories in the comments below or on twitter (@BrianSCreek). Have you seen success in KU or do you prefer to go wider? And what other channels do you use?

And if anyone has any questions regarding my experience of kindle or Kobo self-publishing, feel free to ask.

See you in seven. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 14: "30 Days and Done"

And now a look back at my NaNoWriMo 2017.


DAY THIRTY - 4266 words

This final day was all about cleaning up the end of the alien invasion and returning the hero home to realise what he has to do now. But the aliens were only the first finale. He still had to fight the ultimate villain of the story, a being that could destroy all existence. I managed to start this fight scene and was clear of my planned word count for the day (and over my final target word count) so I didn't need to write more. 

But then I sat down with dinner and watched Captain America: Civil War. 

After the credits rolled I felt rejuvenated, and while I didn't have the time to finish the book properly, I got down the key points of the fight, of resolution, and the ending I didn't know I wanted until I got there. It's very rushed (the hero works out how to defeat the villain via an epiphany with absolutely no foreshadowing), but it'll all be sorted out in the next draft. I just really wanted to have something like a plan down on paper before putting the novel aside (unlike 2010's I AM BROKEN, which to this day still doesn't have it's ending) and more importantly, I just wanted to write THE END. It was a nice bow on top of my best NaNo ever.



And that's the end. Thirty days of writing that has been an absolute blast. 

I've really blown myself away this year with how much and how fast I've written. Just to be clear, I'm not bragging. I'm quite the introvert (aren't all us crazy authors?). But I can't be anything other than proud of what I've accomplished in thirty days.

What surprised my during this and some other prvious NaNo's is that when I expect to not do well, I seem to surpass what is necessary. Back in 2007 when I took part for the first time, I had nothing but free time, and yet I allowed myself to be distracted by a games console and found myself slipping behind (only two late night writ-a-thons managed to help me over that finish line). 

Others years have been the same, yet when 2013 rolled around, life had pilled a lot of writing distractions on me. I have a one year old son, work was hectic, and I was living in the dinning room of my father-in-laws bungalow. I was quite stressed and depressed at the time, so I only took part in that years NaNoWriMo to cheer myself up and provide a distraction. I was already accepting that I would't get far into it. And yet I found myself unable to stop a lot of days, getting a good thousand done on my lunch break, and a further one or two thousand done in the evening with my laptop balanced on a foot stool.

Last year was truly something special. I was coming through a period where my stress, anxiety, and depression had me seeking professional help. The way I was had affected my home and work life and I wasn't the easiest person to be around. But that constant of November writing couldn't have come at a better time and gave me something to focus on. And considering I only really committed to it the night before it started, my story came through complete, finished on the evening of November 30th, and smashed my previous word count record. Considering some years I made it to 50,000 and stopped, last year the story pushed me forward so that I wrote almost 15,000 more than necessary. With zero road bumps or stalls, and no write-arounds.

I honestly never thought I get that much done again and was happy to leave UTOPIA FOR PEARS as the flag upon my NaNoWriMo mountain. 

And then this year happened and, despite new personal problems and work being even more stressful, I blew UTOPIA out of the water. The story just kept giving, and with it being set in my favourite genre, it wasn't difficult to stay excited. I know a lot won't be used in the final version, and there's a lot more to be added over the already epic (for me) word count. But I see what it should be, where it needs to go, and have been happy to let the randomness of NaNo add a few extra characters and plot points that I hadn't considered but know will be important to include.



So, the plan going forward? Well I have the other project I'm working on which I took a break from during NaNo, and then SuperGod is what I'll be working on to get out before NaNo 2018. And who knows what I'll be writing come November next year. I look forward to finding out, and I wonder if, just maybe, I can set another word count record again.



Before I go, a big congratulations to fellow FlashDogs Casey, Nancy, Holly, Steph, and Liz, as well as first timers Craig and Mark. These guys set out on the same journey as me and all crossed the finish line followed by a raised a drink at 'The Validated Writer'. November saw the birth of 7 new worlds from these writers minds, new worlds you may hopefully see in the near future.

Anyway, I'm off now, taking a break from writing for a few days.

See you in seven.




Wednesday, 29 November 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 13: "NaNoWriMo 2017 - Day 29"

November is almost over and NaNoWriMo is coming to and end for another year. After crossing the finishing line as early as the 17th, and having the pleasure of validating the day validation opened up, I've been able to just enjoy myself for the last week and just see where the story goes.



DAY TWENTY-THREE - 2353 words

With our hero stuck on the surface of the moon, and no obvious way to get back to Earth, day 23 consisted of me writing stuff until a solution presented itself. This was the first time I got a little worried during this story, but just when I though about skipping ahead and sporting it out at a later date, something materialized. It will need some fleshing out and setting up in the next draft, but I like it. 

And as I close in on my personal record for NaNo (2016's UTOPIA FOR PEARS hit 64034 words), I'm looking forward to exploring this epic ending.



DAY TWENTY-FOUR - 3619 words

First off, this day is awesome because I beat my previous NaNo Record. SuperGod is the story that keeps giving, and while some years I've hit 50,000 and just stopped, whether I'd reached the ending or not, this time I just can't stop carrying on. My aim it to push myself to add 50% and hit 75,000.

I got a lot done, even going back onto the laptop when I'd already done enough for the day. With the hero back from the moon and ready to kick ass, it was time to get the pieces in place for the finale (well, the first one, anyway).



DAY TWENTY-FIVE - 1025 words

From such a high over the previous week, I was brought back down to earth with my worst NaNo word count since the end of November 2015. A lot of it was time; being out fore the morning, working on an IT issue for the afternoon, spending time with the family, and watching the Formula 1 qualifying, I didn't even boot up the laptop until 8pm.

Add to this a scene I wasn't enjoying where I'm, beginning to move the players into position, and it was very stop/start. I'd write a couple of hundred, log off, chide myself for not hitting the target, and try again. It was the first painful day this year, and I'm just glad I got over 1000.



DAY TWENTY-SIX - 2864 words

Coming off the back of a crap word count, I made the effort on day 26. My son was compliant, and gave me a good hour where he just sat and played quietly, and I crossed the 1667 feeling good. After lunch I pushed it past 2000, working on a scene that is my ode to The Suicide Squad, which should have been enough. But like day 24, I had one more effort when I didn't need to and closed to almost 3000. I actually planned on going on again later, but found myself tired watching the Formula 1 and called it as job good enough.

I'm in that annoying part where it's all build up for the finale and you don't ant to write too much and slow the book down, but you also don't want to rush it and shoot you load with out preparing the drama. Hopefully the drafts will fix this.

And less than 4000 words to go for my updated target.



DAY TWENTY-SEVEN - 3147 words

This day went better than expected. It's the men on a mission scene now as the group go head to head with the alien invaders. They may be the last hope for planet earth, but that doesn't mean that they have to get on. I'm enjoying the conflict between the characters, something I'm not always good at writing. 

This was another day where I thought I'd done enough, see I was just 200ish words from a milestone, write a bit more, then find I was 200ish words from another milestone. My inability to end a day just a few words short of something on my spreadsheet looking tidy is a massive carrot on a stick. People would say I'm weird, but it puts words on my page (and I can make them good words later).

And in 779 words, I'll have reached my secondary word count goal of 75,000.



DAY TWENTY-EIGHT - 2445 words

Another good word count day and I managed to achieve my secondary goal of 75,000 words. Woo hoo! Though the wife has annoyed me by uttering the phrase "I reckon you could make it to 80,000." So on I go. To be fair, it shouldn't be too difficult as I'm still in the middle of the first epic finale with the hero and his small team knee deep in alien scum. And things are starting to look tough. 



DAY TWENTY-NINE - 2370 words

This was some tough writing. It's easy to write a lot of the first draft without a plan and without details, but with things coming to conclusion, it's been hard to tie everything up. 

Part of this is because, although I'm not physically editing as I go, my brain still thinks of things to add, delete, or alter when I get to rewrites later. And without an actual plan (because I didn't know what I would have at my disposal when I got to the last third) it's hard to write an ending that makes sense and has punch. Some characters that were big in my plan have faded from the story, while other ones that were completely new several days ago have turned out to be very integral players in the story. 

So while I'm looking forward to working on draft two early next year, I'm scared because I can see how much work there is to do.

On the plus, I got finale one out of the way (some parts were rushed because my character's motivation and personalities are very 2D and paper thin) and with one day to go, it's all about the big fight; hero vs villain SMACKDOWN!!!



And that's nearly all I wrote. There is just one day left of NaNoWriMo 2017. I can't believe how quickly it has flown by. Not long until advent calendars are opened, then it's Star Wars, Christmas, and before you know it we're all saying Happy New Year.

Since I last posted, 3 more @FlashDogs have crossed the finish line. It's good to see the group that formed writing very short fiction spreading their wings and coping with 50,000+ words. Hopefully there will be more FlashDog related works in the next couple of years to adorn everyone's bookshelves.

For those of you closing in on 50,000, best of luck to you. Whether you're just a thousand away and will ease over it tomorrow, or you've got a mountain to climb and plan on doing some mad dash mega writing, the main thing to remember, crossing the line or not, is that you made yourself write. That's more than a lot of people who say they 'want to publish a book' do. And there's no law that says you can only use what hits paper in November. If you don't make it, you don't have to stop. While the NaNoWriMo winners badge can make you feel good, a finished book sat on your bookshelf is the ultimate prize.

Let me know how you're all getting on, either in the comments below or on twitter @BrianSCreek

Now go write, write like you've never written before. Write like the wind.

See you in seven.