Maybe it is because I am now an avid reader, maybe it is because I write, maybe it is just because I have grown up but recently I have found helping in a library to be quite therapeutic. It is coming to the end of the year at the school I am teaching at and, as per usual with a set of children not understanding the intricacies of library systems, the books are a mess on the shelves. There are Rs in the B section, junior fiction in the senior section and some children do not realise that RAN comes before REB! I decided to help organise the books, helping to work out what was missing and putting them back in the right places. Apart from the fact that I have now found a few more books I would like to read (not good as I already have a massive book pile!), I found that I enjoyed putting them in order. Maybe it is actually the authoritarian in me! As a child I would have found the monotonous task a little soul-destroying but now I am having fun. I tried to think about why and I feel that as a writer I am helping other writers by doing this work. I am also giving a little back to the readers (the few I have!). It almost feels like I am doing the dirty work again, the first step on a longer journey as if I am now some sort of apprentice. It is almost like the first stage is to organise the books, next is to scan them out, then I can read them and finally I can move on to writing my own. It is a strange and weird feeling. In many ways this is a bit of a pointless post but I would really like to promote helping out in a library, even just for one day. As a writer let’s give a little back to the readers and the general community. Oh yeah, another good reason is that there is a sense of power in using the scanner as well, like I am lord of the books. “Why is this late?” “Have you tried this book?” “Where are you going, that book has not been scanned?” Right, I will get of my high horse now and attempt to finish my editing so I can release one of the many manuscripts I have sitting in Google Docs, just as soon as I have moved Tolkien before Tolstov!
I have often seen local authors sitting in shops, particularly WH Smith, with a pile of books to sign and no-one buying them. I feel for them but move on pretty quickly. However, today I said no to a book signing and now I feel bad. The book is one I have heard of from a local author and fits into the Young Adult genre. Maybe the reason I feel bad is because this is a genre I write. Anyway, he told me he was signing books as I walked past but I just said, “no thanks.” After walking on a few paces I thought, ‘I am an aspiring author, I should be supporting this person.’ I did have my one year old daughter in my arms and was walking to calm her down, I am a little low on cash and I have too many books to read so did not want to buy it, but are these all poor excuses? Should I be buying signed books by local authors to support the cause even if I have no interest in the book itself? I then started to think about how I would feel if this was me. I think I would be indifferent, I mean he did go out his way to tell me he was signing books. I would not want to bug people who walked past if I had a book signing. However, I struggle to get people to review my books online and know how down it can make your feel. Really, the question I am asking is should we support other authors just because we are authors too or should we be truthful and only promote or help authors in those areas/genres we enjoy? I feel I am a hypocrite in some ways as I would always promote my friends no matter what they are doing. And the book that was being signed was, itself, a book I would not have minded reading. Oh well, none of us are perfect, he is probably over it now so I really should be.
Now the summer holidays have come I am tasking myself with writing for at least ten minutes each day so I can get something out before the end of August. Sometimes I find, like most writers, that I just need to get the first word right to allow my writing to flow. I know what I want to put down but cannot always start. For some reason today I felt like writing a poem and thought this writing conundrum was a worthy topic. Unlike the ideas behind the poem the actual writing of the poem flowed and I was able to produce it quickly. I tried to get symbolism in there rather than focusing on rhyming like I have with most of my other poems, you can not only tell this by the metaphors but the fact it does not rhyme at all! For once I feel like I did a good job and am rather proud of myself, a little bit smug you could say! You can read the poem on wattpad or take a gander below…
The First Word
Shaking, trembling, the perspiration falls
I have so much to say
So much to give to the world
Like a torrid ocean my mind swirls
I know where this will go
I just need to find its hand
So I can lead it to its destination
But alas it blocks my path
My achilles heel
My dark side
My inner demon
A vast land stretches before me
But I am stuck behind a wall
Peering through the bars of a gate
If only I could get the key
Turn the lock and be allowed to run free
I look, I stare but all is bare
As I fumble in the undergrowth
I find what I am looking for
Cold metal on my sweaty palms
But there are more and more
Some card shaped
But which is right for me?
The land changes as I move each one close to the gate
It turns to fire, then ice, then sand
All will work, but only one is right
Which I pick could shape my destiny
Keep me flowing through this land
Carving out a channel through the rolling hills
Until the next wall appears and I must choose again
I use the first key I saw
Poke a toe out, the grass feels rough
It is like thorns pressing into my foot
I pull back in pain
Maybe the plastic one will do
I try again but this time I feel water
It is cold, ice cold but does not feel bad
What is that? Swimming there?
Sharp teeth, dark eyes, wide jaws
I retreat again, to the safety of this place
Behind the wall, waiting for the inspiration to come
Waiting for the right choice to be made
I search some more, there are keys
Some hang from trees, pretty and ornate
Some are deep in the ground, covered in dirt
Some give an aura of hope
Some tell of despair
And so this will go on and on
Find a key, try the lock
Taste the air and feel the ground
I will keep going
I will find the right path
I will be able to run free
But I cannot think of that now
Now I need to hunt
Now I need to search
Now I need to find my first word
Euro 2016 starts in less than a week so to celebrate I thought I would do a different type of promotion to those I have usually done. I have made a book free for two days, which is quite easy when they are on Kindle. However, the Extra Time Edition of World Cup Dreams is both on Kindle and in print. So this time I am going to give away two print copies of World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition for FREE. As I have had to purchase the books before sending them on I am going to make you work a little for them. What you need to do is write a poem about football, it could celebrate the Euros coming up or the World Cup. It might be about your favourite club team or a great manager or player. It might even be about grassroots football. The only rules are that it must be original, it must be about football (sometimes called soccer in some countries) and it can be a maximum of 250 words long. To enter you need to fill in the form below. The competition will finish on Friday 3rd June at midnight UK time. I will then pick my two favourite entries (very subjective I know!) and contact them for an address to send the book to. When the competition has ended I will put some of the entries up on this blog (both the winners and other good entries) and will link to the websites/blogs/twitter/facebook of the writers (so you can get a little promotion yourself.). Right then, all there is to say now is good luck and I look forward to seeing the entries.
World Cup Dreams competition entry form
This may seem like a sales pitch but it is really not, although I will provide a link to my book if you do want to take a look (got to get the marketing where you can!). I have said for a while that I was unhappy with the formatting of Captain Caleb and the Tickle Monster on Kindle, however I have recently looked at it on my Hudl and it looks much better than it did on my iPhone or on an iPad. Because of this, and the fact we were trying to entertain him whilst waiting for lunch in a pub, I decided to read Captain Caleb to my son who is now just a little over two and a half. It really was nothing more than a time killing solution. However, as I read I tried to get my son to do the actions and phrases in the book which he duly did. Yet something magical happen, he was actually giggling at the story and pointing at items on the pictures. He noticed that Purple Pete was chased by a bat and pointed to the X on the treasure map. He was also excited by being able to swipe across the screen to change pages but I take no credit for that!
After we had finished he said those immortal words a write wants to hear, “I want to read it again.” This time Mummy took up the mantle of reader. The second time through my son was even more animated, chuckling to himself and joining in. Towards the end of the book when it says, “are you scared?” he said, “No, it’s a tickle monster,” and proceeded to tickle my Wife and myself. You know, I may not have sold many copies and I have pretty much no reviews of the book but that does not matter when your son is clearly enjoying the work you have done. It put a big smile on my face and for the first time in a long while made me proud of myself. I think we will have to read it again in the coming days as the boy asks for more and more. I am so glad he enjoyed it so much.
So, the marketing bit of this lovely family moment is coming now. If you want to buy the book you can by going here for the UK version or here for the US version. I am still planning on creating a print copy but have lots I want to do first. Thank you and if you do not buy it then just revel in the wonder that children bring to your life.
Every now and then I write a poem, I did a few as part of World Cup Dreams but have also posted some on this blog. The other day I was working when I heard some students in an English lesson discussing love poems they were writing for their coursework. I thought, ‘you know I could write a love poem, but not one of those mushy ones, a real one about what love really is.’ So a little time later I wrote a poem about what love is not, in fact that is what I have entitled it. I have often thought of putting my poems into one book but never had enough to collate them. Then I remembered Wattpad, I tend to not use it anymore as I find it is mainly teenage girl’s fantasies and fan fiction but it is the perfect place to slowly update a book before it can be formatted for Smashwords when complete. I really don’t understand poetry and I feel I am terrible at it but I do like rhyming and getting some quick thoughts and opinions out on paper so I do enjoy writing the odd poem. I have had the title ‘Bad Poetry you probably never want to read’ in my head for a while so have used this. I know it is rather self-deprecating but I honestly don’t think I am good at poetry, also there is no common thread throughout my poems so no other title seemed to fit. I even made a horrible brown cover to make it look less enticing and like a bad 1960s self help book.
Anyway, the book is now up on Wattpad, I can’t say I will update it regularly but whenever I write a poem it will be up there. Please note that I will not be including the poems from World Cup Dreams. Have a look and tell me what you think. In other news, I have been writing more of my Movember story so that should be out before the end of the year (hopefully long before!). It will be free as Movember has been and gone but I have enjoyed writing it and I am hoping you will enjoy reading it.
Errr…erm….what just happened? The last thing I remember saying on here was how positive I was and that there was some sort of Movember story coming out. Guess what! It never got finished. Have you notice that about me? I drop down my aspirations each time I do a new post about my progress and still fail to hit my targets. Well this time I am not making any promises. Ok, I will make one, I will do some writing in 2016 and that is it!
To go back to the Movember story, I do have a plot and have written about four thousand words but then work and Christmas preparations hit. This new job does take up a lot of my time. Oh yeah, I am also having a second child next year (well my wife is) so that means even less time. Anyhow, I did complete Movember and raised over £100. Here is a little pic of me with a tash, I did promise you one…
Ok, so going forward there is not much of a plan. What about looking back at the year behind me? Not many blog posts done (I had ideas for a whole lot more but not the time to do them), little writing and a general lack of creativity. I did start a new project, a second children’s picture book (which I never finished), and did some work on my novel as well as completing Super Lizard Returns. I had a cheeky look back at my targets for 2015, as I have been so busy I completely forgot them and noticed I only had two. First was the novel, I did try to stick to the word count each month but the storyline for the novel genuinely did not work so I scrapped it. Super Lizard Returns did though and I got that up on smashwords. 50% target completion isn’t bad I suppose. That takes me back round to my targets for 2016, just do some writing. Writing is a hobby to me and family, work and general life get in the way but I have to remember it is a hobby and so I have to put it low on my list of priorities. I will try to blog a little more but cannot promise anything, I wanted to tell you about the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup, the talk I watched that was given by the Young Samurai author Chris Bradford and my thoughts on the new Star Wars film but again time got the better of me.
Throughout this post I suppose what I am saying is, I am still alive but don’t expect much from me. Have a great 2016!