Sunday, 29 January 2012

Writing! Writing! Always with the writing!

When I was fifteen years old (young?) I wanted to be a screenplay writer. In fact, it was at the tender age of twelve (approximately) that I wrote my first novel - "Red Elf"; a parody of the BBC comedy series "Red Dwarf".

Bashed out, one Summer, on my mother's typewriter. Written in a red ink - crude drawings, scrawled in Biro, throughout the book - the book's illustrations. I can barely remember the book. I remember the first line though, "What in Greek Buggery Bollocks was that?"

That... That was my subconscious saying, "Give up. Give up, now."

I didn't though. I carried on. I wrote the whole book. Well over one hundred pages. I even sent the book off to publishers who simply wrote back urging me to pay attention at school, ignoring any specifics about what I actually sent them, other than my young age.

A wasted Summer, perhaps? No. I enjoyed myself and, that's all that matters.

I often wonder, what did I do with that book? Part of me worries that I'll find it so day, clearing out the attic at mum and dad's house long after they're gone and my brother and I are fighting over who gets the house (me, he doesn't deserve it. They love me more anyway).

If I did ever find it again - I wouldn't read it. I remember one thing at least; it was crap.

A few years past and I got more interested in films. I loved everything about them. I wanted to act in them, film them and even write them and that's when the writing hobby really kicked into overdrive.

"Dodging Death" was the first screenplay I wrote (Columbia said 'yes' to reading it but I never heard from them again - until they went bust) - all about a hitman called 'Death' (yep, really THAT lame). I even asked Rik Mayall's agent if he'd have a read.

He refused.

I didn't care, though.

I ended up writing, keeping in mind that I'd make the films myself one day. Even make them with friends, if need be. During college my friends (Matt Yates, James Burrows, Drake) would often talk about making the films. Alas, we only ever made unscripted films for a laugh, during weekends.... another hobby I got during secondary school when I used to make films with school chums - only to show other classmates the masterpieces the following week.

The secondary school films - 'The Tramp Saga'. An evil tramp living in the woods killing kids. Unscripted. Brilliant. I still have them on VHS.

I really must destroy that.

Any spare time I had, I spent writing. Even if I thought it was rubbish, I bashed it out just to get the thing written.... done and dusted so I could move onto the next project. Now I have the rule - if I don't like that I am writing within the first 20 pages.... I'll bin it and move on immediately.

People say it's best to keep writing. I disagree. If something isn't working out for the author of their own book in 20 odd pages.... readers would have given up with it after ten pages.

The point of all this rambling?

Well, I'm now 31 years old. Just released the final part of 'Happy Ever After'.

'Happy Ever After' started as a screenplay when I was around the age of eighteen. There's notes to the story (which made it into the final book) in one of my notebooks - clearly dated 1998.

'Love Life' - the book I released second of all? Again, I have notes for this title dated back to 1997.

Next up I'm writing 'The Chosen Routes' - a project I scripted when I was at Drama (I must have been around the age of fifteen or sixteen so.... 1995). 

Not forgetting I have a sci-fi book called 'The Last Stop' lined up - notes from the same time period as 'The Chosen Routes'.

I guess the point I am making is - if you spend any time writing notes for ideas you have.... never give up on them. Never turn your back on them. You never know when you'll find a use for them.

My story ideas from approximately fifteen years ago..... only now are they seeing the light of day. 

And it feels great.

I knew I wasn't wasting my childhood.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Happy Ever After

Happy Ever After is, by far, my most successful Trilogy. Mainly because it's my only trilogy. But, we'll consider that a mute point. It's a great story. The reviews speak for themselves. Well, they don't.... you have to read them yourself but... well.... they're pretty good.

Anyway, finally have the final part back in my inbox - the mistakes are fixed and it's looking all sparkly and good, ready to release. And I have to say, I feel a little bit sad - I've been writing these characters since 2008 and now, 4 years later, it's finally time to say goodbye to them.

I suppose I should just be grateful I've had them this long; it wasn't actually supposed to be a trilogy. People, though, were hassling me for more of the story. Reviews also said they wanted more.

Again, it wasn't the reviews that said that. It was actually the people who wrote them.... but, even so.... people wanted more.

The thing is, I liked the ending for Happy Ever After (I won't ruin it incase you haven't read it yet). I didn't really want to add to it and, even so, I kind of wrote the characters into a corner from which they couldn't really squirm their way back out. With that in mind, I guess all I could do was to write a prequel...

There was plenty of scope for a prequel - to tell more of the story from Peter's point of view. And the perfect storyline seemed to fit nicely around Young Susie, the girl commented upon in Happy Ever After.

Job's a good 'un.

Thankfully the book wrote itself (not literally, that would be stupid) and it wasn't long before it was released. I won't lie, I was nervous. So many good comments around Happy Ever After and so many people wanting the story - I didn't want to ruin the story for anyone.

And it was through chatting to one person (Stephanie Lock, I thank you) I even had the door opened for a sequel to Happy Ever After.

Won't lie - I felt a little bit like Tarantino the way I mixed the timelines up, you know, writing part 2 and then part 1 and finally ending on part 3 but I think it works.

Within a couple of months of the initial chat (and finishing G.S.O.H Essential - the prequel) I had already finished A Fresh Start. It was shorter than the other two but I felt that making the story longer would just dilute what I was trying to create and that, I felt, was a bad thing to do.

Authors are always wittering on about the word count but.... I don't believe in a word count. Don't make the story overly long. Don't let too many characters and descriptive narratives destroy the ambience of the story. Yes, in some circumstances it can add to the stories but not in the case of this series. See, these books are all written through the eyes of the people living the stories; it's all dialogue or thought processes.

How many times have you thought long descriptive bits and bobs to sum up what you're thinking or what you're looking at? You don't. Our brains work in quick thought processes and that's how I wrote the book. I couldn't change the way in which I wrote them - not without taking away from the previous books so.... yeah.... book 3 is shorter.

As for the ending.... Without giving anything away. I like it.

One response said words along the lines of, 'Fucking Hell..... You bastard.'

I'm quite proud of that response.

And, as I sit back, gearing up for the release of book 3.... I can't help but feel the nerves beginning to set in again, wondering what people will think of the final part.

Fingers crossed.

Who am I?

Walking around the supermarket (Sainsburys, actually) I can't help but snigger, a little, at the couples mooching around the aisles, filling their trollies with their monthly shopping. Listening in on their conversations; petit arguments about this and that, the men clearly sulking for being dragged around the shop instead of being allowed to stay at home playing on their games console or taking the 'alone time' to google various porn sites.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience.

Funnier still is a walk down the DVD aisle (or blu-ray if you're hip, like me) listening to the stern chats about not having the money for 'that particular film'. Normally it's the lady saying 'no' and the man begging to be allowed to sneak the film into the trolly.

The magazine aisle clearly shows the couples in their comfort zone. The women on their side of the aisle flicking through various intellectual magazines (like 'Woman's Own' or 'Heat') and the men on their side of the aisle pretending to read the 'interesting article' which so happens to be on the page crammed with tits.

It doesn't take THAT long to read 'Hannah, 27, from Poole'.

The magazine aisle is always the quietest. You can test this next time you're shopping.

I think to myself, how lucky I am. I'm just me. No arguing. No 'should I buy this or will she go mad'. None of that. I just walk around the shop and please myself...

And yet - I'm not actually as lucky as my brain feels when hearing these arguments.

See, I'm the quiet stranger walking around the shop. The one who doesn't need the trolley. The one who can fit his shopping into a basket (albeit a fucking heavy one). Single serve roast beef meals. The one muttering to himself that all the frozen foods are sold in packs of two and I clearly only need one of them... I'm the one missing out on the human interaction; going home to an empty house - my only source of conversation is when I shout at the cat or make silly lizard-type noises at The Bearded Dragon who just looks at me.... with his lizard eyes.... judging me....

I'm the one who'll, one day, be found in his house - dead. The neighbours only alerted that something isn't right, with the house next door, because of the funny smell. I'm the one who'll be discovered, lying on the sofa....lifeless, his cat chewing his fingers due to starvation.

This is my life. Welcome.

Making friends never came easy to me. Believe it or not, but I am painfully shy - a mental sense of humour my only (thin) defence at hiding this from people I meet. A mental sense of humour which then helps to turn people away from me because they can't keep up with the craziness I offer. I stifle some of the things I am itching to say and end up just 'being quiet' again.

I work all day in a job that isn't what I want to do with my life - but I do it (with good heart most of the time) to pay the bills whilst I work on my books and cartoons. I come home, at night, and hide behind a computer screen - hitting Facebook with craziness after craziness; people tuning in just to see what random stuff I'm going to get up to next. Silly video blogs, these blogs (albeit a darker tone), random status updates just to get people laugh ("Neighbours cooking smells lovely. How long do I leave them in the oven for?") - anything to get people to come back to see what I'm going to do. Anything to get people to come back to interact with me - pretend, at least, to be my friend.

I am Jack's Performing Monkey.

Yet, when the chips are down - these people are gone (not all of them - some of them are great and message me to see what's up etc etc....)

I feel like I am here to make people laugh (and I enjoy it mostly) but when the Black Dog comes nipping at my ankle - who is here to make me laugh? Who is here to make a smile creep onto my face?

Maybe this is what I am destined to do. Be the 'Butlins Entertainment' until the day I get the courage to do what's needed. Run on 'stage', do something stupid - then retire back to the quietness of an empty home with only a cat and a lizard for company whilst I let the manic levels, within, build back to a sufficient level to start it all again.... keeping it up until the mask slips, once more and I sink deeper into another depression - ready to start the cycle again.

I tire of people looking at me to make them laugh or smile. I get annoyed when I get messages via social networking sites asking why I'm not funny anymore.

"You're normally funny but at the moment you aren't. You're normally my daily laugh."

It annoys me and yet I can't live without it.

With regards to 'Who am I?'

I'm the shadow in the supermarket, watching normal couples and families interact with each other - a burning pit of jealousy swirling around inside of my tormented gut.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What's wrong with me???

No messages? How is this possible, I think, as I look (teary-eyed) at my online dating profile on Plenty of fish.... I mean - come on - the site reckons there are currently over 15,000 people currently logged on. Am I really that f-ugly that not ONE (note the importance with the capitals again) of these women is interested enough to message me?? Am I really that much of a lost cause?

Well, thinking about my past...


I guess I am...

As I sat there, looking at the blank content on the 'no message' screen, my mind flittered back to my past... in particularly - primary school. Allow me to share....

Ma and Pa (mum and dad to you) - they wanted the best for my brother and I. Admittedly they wanted the best for me, more, because I am their favourite. Can't blame them. I'm amazing (at least, compared to my brother anyway). Truly... a God among men.

Remember from blog number one: I use artistic licence.

So. There they are. Mum and Dad. Looking at School pamphlets, trying to decide upon a suitable place of education for Big Bro and I. They ended up settling on one that wasn't too far from our house - a private school set in a spooky mansion-type building. All very posh. Now, at the time of choosing, I'm sure they didn't mean to send us to a school where the Head Teacher was a kiddy-fiddler...


I just couldn't see them sitting around a stack of books, in front of a roaring fire.... my mother preggers (pregnant) with Son One (brother).

"Ooh, look," I can't see her saying, "this school.... they'd get a well rounded education AND learn about bumming and giving handjobs."

"Well then, my dear," I can't see my old man replying, "let us send them there then!"


Just can't see it.

At the time of schooling - Mr T. (Not THE Mr T from the A-Team) was a stern teacher who took a special fondness to me. He often invited me back to his house (along with his Grandson who was in my class) to watch films (not porn) and get some extra-lessons, whilst going through homework assignments.

He even let me stay the night in the room next to his, whilst his Grandson slept in the same bed as him.

Won't lie. Bath time. Bit Weird. We were both aged ten or eleven and yet he would still come into the bathroom to make sure we were washing (made us share a bath) and behaving ourselves. I can only presume he used the images for his own personal Mental Spank Wank Bank but.... no proof and, I never saw it so.... don't care.

At that age, everything seemed fine.

He was a kind fellow, Mr T. He took me on holidays too - away from ma and pa.... beach holidays where we'd get to sit around in trunks all day or frolic in the sea (after which he would always help to dry us which was great because I could never be bothered to do it properly).

Out of all the teachers I have ever had - he was the best. A proper gentleman. He taught me most of what I know today (how to pick up soap, how to.... no, I'm joking!!) and he made sure my manners were up to scratch. Indeed, it was thanks to him I won 'Gentleman of the Year' award at school.

Fuck knows how that happened! Stupid cunts! All I can think of must have been a fix.

Erm... I mean.... Quite right too for I.... I am a proper gentleman (and don't you forget that, ladies.... I only ever hit you if you are out of line).

With that in mind - I was WELL SHOCKED (hello, Capitals!) when he was outed by The Daily Echo as being a dirty bastard who preyed on little boys. No sooner had one stepped forward, more and more stepped forward too - all with tales of being abused by this 'monster'....

My brother was also shocked too (he had special attention, like me, as well) and even got in touch with the Pig (Police Officer) in charge of the case to say none of it could be true.... Turns out it could be true because Mr T stepped up to the Judge (Judy) and pleaded 'Guilty'. 


He's dead now.

Died in prison. Heart attack. I wonder, was it a heart attack brought on from all the naked men butts in the showers? Did he suddenly shout 'Phrooooooaarrrrrrr' and drop to the floor dead....?

Anyway.... back to present day; looking at the 'no messages' message I have (technically a message, right?) I can't help but think there is no hope for me. I'll never find someone to love me.....

There must be something seriously wrong with me if I can't even get laid by a Monster.

Talk about Mr Unpopular.

Monday, 23 January 2012

So you want to self-publish your work?

I'm all for helping people to get their work out there, for all to see and read but - I won't lie - I'm fussy about who I help.

For instance... if you're blonde, attractive, single (or immoral with own transport), complete with breasts.... yeah.... chances are, I'll help you. Oh wait, don't go. I'm kidding. I'll help nearly anyone. Male or female. And, I don't even need anything for it.

However, before I start to help people get their work in the public domain I ask them a very simple question; what's your goal?

It's how they answer that determines whether I can be arsed (technical term) to give them support... for let us be honest... I'm a very busy man. It's tough being a well known, published genious... genis... geniarse.... clever person such as myself. Cough.

I best point out now, right, that artistic licence is used through-out my weekly blogs.

Anyway... moving on...

If someone replies to me in such a way which suggests they are only in it for the money... I tell them to bugger off. Give up now. Move on. Find another job. Choose a different hobby. There are millions of wanna-be-writers out there scribbling down their thoughts and releasing to a worldwide audience and it;s rare that, as a self published author, you make the big bucks. Or Pounds. Depending on where you live.

The depressing thing is - some of these writers are extremely talented (such as myself.... you can find my work on Amazon Kindle and it is a BARGAIN.... what??? What's your problem? It's my blog, I'll advertise if I want too!) and it's a shame to think that real publishers, agents etc etc won't give them the break they so obviously deserve. But, as hinted at earlier, competition is extremely fierce.

Like my cat, really. You know... when I don't bring her her Whiskas Cat Food in the morning, newspaper and cup of coffee... Proper grouchy. Well fierce.

If you're contemplating self-publishing, the chances are you have already gone through the channels of trying to get an agent or publisher or what-not. If not, look into it - never say never - but be prepared to face A LOT of rejection (I used capitals then to really drive the point home, I hope you noticed) and don't think it will be a walk in the park. For years I struggled with sending ideas off to people, banging on doors, banging doors and even banging windows and yet I couldn't get close to these elusive people. Do they even exist, I often wondered to myself.

That was a lie. I never wondered that. I just thought 'bollocks'.

If you want to go down that particular avenue, though, I suggest you stop reading now because I'm not even going to touch upon it. I won't even mention a good book, such as The Writers and Artists Year book, which has lots of useful information, phone numbers, email addresses and even real addresses too, of where you can send your work. Nope. Won't mention it. Oh hang on.... dammit.

Back to self-publishing...

Years ago I started with a company called Lulu. I found them via my friend Google (he talks to me) and followed the relatively simple step-by-step process of releasing my first book. My first book, incidentally, was a cartoon book based on Sperm. Because that, my friend, is how mature I am. I thank you.

Lulu gave me my own storefront, let me even set up the 'look' of my shop. Lulu even let me set the price, which in turn set my royalty level. I kept it low because I wanted people to buy it. And buy it they did, by Jove. (Who is Jove?)

Sooner after I have a bit of a breakdown (because I'm a bit mental, like) and ended up with doctor appointments and appointments with shrinks. It was all rather fun and I found myself, feeling really sorry for myself, writing a book - 'The Autobiography of a Nobody'. Over 200 pages examining my life, and ripping it to pieces poking fun at myself and generally having a laugh with the narrative. At first I thought I was doing it for me but, soon after finishing it, I thought - there's loads of people like me (who suffer from depression, blah blah) so why not release it. Lulu offered ISBN (barcode bit on the back of books) and told me how to get my work on Amazon and other major resellers! Awesome!

And away I went. Less than two months later, I was telling the chicks (when the rohypnol wore off) that I was a published author. They still screamed. Broke my heart.

Moving on...

The problem with Lulu was the charges. It got expensive. To make any money you had to have high prices for your book and - the chances of selling books at a price THAT high (again, my groovy use of Capital letters... I rock) were remote. I still released more books though but, instead of putting a high price, I set the price really low (just over £5.00) - I sold a fair few but was only making 20p a book. Do you know how depressing that is???

And that's when I stumbled across Amazon KDP.

If you want to find it - ask my mate Google. Sure, I could provide the links but, next you'll be asking me to write the damned book for you too (and you should because I am great.... did I mention that already?)

Basically this lets you release directly to Kindle - as an Ebook. Again, you get to set the price.... you get to do the cover design... basically you do everything. And the beauty is - you get most of the royalty to yourself!

Again, don't go thinking this is a get rich quick scheme. I currently have 8 books available through Kindle and the most I make, per book, is £1.30 (ish) but, it's better than a kick in the teeth. It's nice to know, though, that my work is out there and getting read....

Sending letters off to various people hoping to get a big book signing was a dream. I couldn't even get these people to read my books, let alone offer me a deal. So the fact I now have people reading my books and (for the best part) leaving great reviews.... well, really makes a guy feel loved.

And to me - the reviews and other feedback I've received....

That is why I chose to self-publish.

A nice little hobby which enables me to get my work out to an audience other than just my mum and dad and the chance of earning a little extra beer money (I don't drink beer but it seemed better than putting 'prostitutes and drugs')

So.... If your goal is just to get your work out into the Big Wide World.... self-publish.

You have nothing to lose.

And don't forget - once you have tested the waters with releasing to Amazon, you can then get your work onto other places such as Smashwords too. There are many platforms with which you can release your Ebooks. The more places you release.... the more you're likely to sell. But don't forget to publicise your work around the web too! Create a free webpage, talk about your books on Facebook, talk about your books on various kindle forums within Amazon.... TELL EVERYONE!

And remember....

Even if one book isn't selling - KEEP WRITING!!! One of my books is on Amazon for 77p. It took me over a year to write it. I have sold zero copies (that's talent, that is). Another book, I have sold hundreds of copies.... Swings and Roundabouts.