Famous Authors

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Gratuitous use of Mark Twain

Gratuitous use of Mark Twain

Woosh!

That’s the sound of my world at the moment.

Woosh!

There it goes again.

I’m being notable by my absence and hoping you don’t feel too neglected. I am writing and editing and polishing like a demon at the moment, leaving me zero time for much else. There is a reason for all this activity, which I shall divulge in due course…

But for now, I just wanted to pop by, give you all a wave and share this absolute cracker of a site which I should have discovered way before now. It does exactly what it says on the tin!

It’s about famous authors, nothing more, nothing less and it’s a great spot for a bit of a Friday afternoon perusal. Enjoy!

Woosh!

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The Ton-Up Club

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ImageIt’s been a very exciting week here at Jumping From Cliffs.

My little blog officially gained its 100th follower!

What can I say?? Apart from “Woooooooo-hoooooooo!! How terribly splendid!”

100 eh? Goodness. Actually 104 now, as I’ve been a little lax in posting about it – put that down to a birthday, a house falling into the sea, woolly mammoths and a spot of pirating.

Scarce did I imagine when I made my first-ever post on the 23rd of May last year that even one single solitary soul would ever take the time to read it. Now there are over 100 in under a year.

To say that I am highly honoured and flattered would be an understatement of some magnitude.

I’d like to say a gigantic Thank You to each and every one of you. I’d come round to each of your houses in person with a cup of tea and a piece of cake if I could.

Whether you’re a Lurker & Liker who pops in, has a read, nods appreciatively then scampers wordlessly off again, or a Committed Commenter who takes the time to engage with the posts and leaves me encouragement, inspiration and motivation, I love you all.

This journey would have got nowhere near this far without all of your support and I would never have met some of the truly outstanding talents and all-round bloomin’ lovely people that I have.

You lot are ace, you know that?

Give yourselves all a hug from me and, on the count of 3 chant in unison: “We’re splendid!!”

Ready? 1, 2, 3…

The Twilight Zone (or “A Tale Of Weirdness”)

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I met another writer the other evening.

He was a generally affable chap, if somewhat over-fond of the sound of his own voice. Fair enough though, I’m sure most of us are prone to waxing lyrical about our literary endeavours after a glass or two of falling-down juice.

For around half an hour, we had a pleasant (if rather one-sided) and wide-ranging conversation in which we most eruditely expounded upon the great literary topics of our enlightened age.

The obligatory and ubiquitous themes of: “Whither traditional publishing in the age of the ‘indie’ self-publisher?”, “Is a professional editor a necessity?” and “Don’t get me started on Fifty Shades of Mummy-Porn Tosh” were debated, discussed and deliberated.

Then it got weird.

No, that doesn’t quite do it justice.

Then it got WEIRD.

That’s better. Add your own wavery elongated vowels in the middle and it’ll be even closer to the mark.

I chanced to ask the chap’s opinion on eReaders versus lovely papery ink-smelling books with pictures on the front. As usual, I prefaced the question with the fact that, until someone creates an eReader that smells like a book, I’m sticking with books. Nothing against eReaders, you understand, just a personal preference.

In the space of a nano-second, the affable would-be author standing before me transmogrified into a wild-eyed, slavering beast, his unruly hair billowing manically like the unfurled sails of a galleon in a typhoon. He stared at me in horror, as if I had somehow metamorphosed, Gregor Samsa-like, into a 6-foot beetle with the sole intention of devouring his children.

“You cannot,” he bellowed, saliva whirling globbily across the room with the force of his insanity, “be a writer today unless you read on an eReader!!”

I understood the individual words, the syntax and the grammar, but combined in that particular order, they made as much sense as if he had claimed: “You cannot ride a zebra unless you have a goldfish bowl.”

Mopping myself down with a handkerchief, I attempted to clarify matters. Did he, perhaps mean that it is imperative that one releases an eBook version? That I would agree with. Could it be that he was alluding to the necessity of understanding how to technically format a novel for the medium? Again, total agreement on my part.

But no, dear readers, far from it. Once more he raved, equally forcefully and with added twitching.

“You cannot be a writer if you do not read on an eReader!!” His hands furled into fists of rage and a vein in his forehead began to throb in a most alarming manner.

At this point I remembered an entirely fictitious train I was about to miss, made my excuses and left, using the same trying-not-to-run motion employed by anyone walking down a dark alley in the early hours telling themselves that werewolves don’t actually exist.

Is it just me?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the words that matter. The medium of delivery is secondary, surely? Write them on paper, project them on the wall, scratch them in sand or train starlings to arrange themselves in formation across an azure sky.

The words we use and the world, the emotions, the truths they conjure up in a reader’s imagination is the first, the only, the be-all-and-end-all to a writer’s purpose. To subjugate that to the vehicle used to impart the words is, I would contend, a heinous triumph of form over content.

I would love to know your views. Does he have a point? Am I simply a Luddite? Am I missing something?

Not the thumbscrews!

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Writer meeting agent

Hello gang, remember me?

It’s been almost two months since my last post, due to an unfortunate boatload of Crazy that beached at my door. Not only has it kept me from this fine endeavour, it has also entirely scuppered my New Year’s resolution of writing every day.

Ah well, c’est la vie I suppose. Anyway, back now and I have some exciting news.

Thanks to the wonderful crew at Authoright I have secured a 15-minute slot to pitch my first novel to a literary agent at the London Book Fair!!

I am extremely excited.

And not a little terrified.

A real-life fire-breathing literary agent, with the terrible fangs and horns and everything.

What on Earth am I going to say?? 15 minutes? I can barely talk about the book for 15 seconds without tripping over my own syntax. And that’s when I’m not quaking in fear at the potentially life-changing opportunity sitting before me mopping my fetid sweat off their desk with a fine damask handkerchief.

Being the well-versed bunch that you are, I’m sure you must have some tips to impart on… well… anything about what to say in a pitch! Anyone??

Get Readers, Keep Readers

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Writing for readers

Image courtesy of ‘gallure’ at stock.xchng

I have just had my very first guest post published! It’s The Big Time for me all the way from here on in my loyal readership – hoorah!!

The very smart and very talented Larissa and Casey over at the Megaphone Society asked me to contribute a piece to their Blogging Best Practice series. The post covers topics ranging from how to make your blog catch a new reader’s attention, to ensuring that you keep your existing audience engaged and loyal. And numerous points in-between.

Needless to say, I’m highly chuffed, as they surely wouldn’t be asking me if they thought my blog was as useful as a badger in a bag would they?

Each top-notch bloggers in their own right, L & C formed the Megaphone Society to help like-minded writers spread the word about each other’s work. A jolly fine enterprise I say and all power to their quartet of combined elbows.

Pop on over and have a read when you get a moment. That’s not to suggest that you aren’t already blogging blooming brilliantly, but there may be one or two tips in there that make you go “Oooh, that’s a splendid idea!”

Or even “Oooh, I need to employ this man as a full-time writer, paying him lavish sums of cash, endowing him with fabulous gifts and generally making all his dreams of escaping the 9-to-5 rat race come true.”

Either works for me.

Wait… How Many??

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You mean to say you read the whole thing?

You mean to say you read the whole thing?

I stumbled upon this rather wonderful list today and was slightly shocked by how few I have actually read.

The 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time

My tally is 22.

Well, 21-and-a-half if I’m truthful. I’m ashamed to say I gave up on Moby Dick during one of the more turgid religious tracts. Or was it the 12-page description of the interior of a Massachussets chum-bucket? I forget.

What’s your score dear readers?

The Next Big Thing

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Way back at the start of December (where does the time go??), I was very kindly tagged in the Next Big Thing blog hop by Kristina over at The Bitter Sweet.

I’ve mentioned before that, whilst I’m always hugely honoured to be nominated for blog awards, blog hops and so on, I tend to pick and choose between the ones I take up, simply because many of them are about the blogger as a person rather than their work. I don’t want to use this blog as a forum to chunter on about what style of cravat I favour or the number of times I’ve been mistaken for Margaret Thatcher. It’s about writing, publishing and all that jazz.

That’s why I love TNBT – it’s a series of questions about a writer’s latest work, plus the opportunity to showcase other writers they admire. So here we go…

What is the working title of your book? Originally it was “Dark Energies”, but I feel that mis-represents the story and sounds too sci-fi. So I changed it to “Jumping From Cliffs” and I’m not comfortable with that either. So it’s back to “Dark Energies” as a working title for now.

What genre does your book fall under? It doesn’t really fall neatly into any single genre and, like many ‘new’ writers, I’m wary of getting pigeon-holed and missing out on a part of my potential audience, so I describe it in one of two ways:

A contemporary urban mystery

or

A quantum love story

One day I’ll combine those into a genre which takes less than 45 minutes to elaborate on.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? I wrote a really good one and then sort of lost it somewhere in the Internet. Hang on, I’ll have a rummage… Ah, there it was, down behind the virtual sofa (of course!)

Dan Carver is a man in his mid-thirties, in a relationship that is going nowhere and is looking for something to fill the gap in his existence. When he finds it, in the form of an unexpected contact from a mysterious stranger on a social network, it will prove to tear apart everything he thought he knew about reality…

Technically two sentences thanks to that full stop bang in the middle, but you get the gist.

Where did you get the idea for your book? From real life. Sitting at home one wet, grey, miserable March Monday, I logged into Facebook and hey presto, there was a ‘poke’ from a complete stranger. This was back in the days when you could still friend-surf before FB sorted out its privacy settings. There was just the poke and a profile picture of the most beautiful and intrigue-filled pair of eyes I had ever seen. I decided to reply…

Who or what inspired you to write this book? My muse, also known as the beautiful stranger who Facebooked me on that extraordinary evening almost 5 years ago.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took almost four years to reach a full first draft with no gaps. As so many other aspiring authors find, it can be impossible to get enough time to write, what with daily life happening all around you and the need to pay bills while you scribble your thoughts down.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre? Wow, that’s a good one. I’d love to compare it to the work of Iain Banks (not his Iain M. Banks sci-fi novels, the ‘normal’ ones…) But that would imply I have an over-inflated sense of my own talent and give everyone just cause to point at me and laugh. Still, the mix of real-world characters and situations with an undertone of mystery and darkness is what I’m aspiring to, which is why I draw the comparison.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh, I’m so rubbish at knowing who’s who in the film world these days. I’d go with a young Richard E. Grant for Dan, the male lead in the book. Bizarrely, I’d have to choose Nigella Lawson for Kate, the mysterious stranger who leads Dan into a world he never imagined existed. Yes, I know Nigella’s not an actor, but she has the right kind of look and character. And as I said, I am really terribly ignorant of current film stars – I think I get so wrapped up in the story that I just see them as the characters rather than actors. Failing the two above, could I maybe choose Bogart and Bacall??

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? In an ideal world it would be represented by an agency. However, given the current climate and the agony of going the traditional route, probably self-published. My day-job that pays the bills is digital marketing, so I figure if I can market someone else’s products I should be able to market my own book, right?

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest? It contains a cat who can be in two places at the same time…

And now it’s time to play tag… I’m sure some of these wonderful people will have been tagged already but they inspire, entertain and motivate me on a daily basis, hence their inclusion. And if I haven’t included you, please accept my sincere apologies, I’m only allowed 5!

Andrew Toynbee: Andrew Toynbee’s Very Own Blog
Nicole Bross: Unravelling My Mind
Kisa Whipkey: Nightwolf’s Corner
Kurt R.A. Giambastiani: Seattle Author
Pat Wood: patwoodblogging

I hope you get as much pleasure from their work as I do – the connections I’ve made so far in my journey through the depths of the blogosphere have been of inestimable value to my writing. I look forward to encountering more of you in due course…

You Say You Want A Resolution

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Happy New Year!

This week, it seems every post I read has been expounding upon New Year’s resolutions, fresh beginnings and goals to be achieved.

Never one to allow a bandwagon to roll by un-jumped, I thought I’d share mine as well.

Quite simple really: writing.

Now, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Not since the year I failed to stop drinking, failed to give up caffeine, failed to get fit, failed to become wealthy and failed utterly to find myself driving a Rolls Royce Corniche around my private castle in Monaco flanked by a bevy of dancing girls force-feeding me chocolate mini-rolls.

So this year, I set myself one goal. I plan to write at least something every day for 365 days. Sounds easy, but is actually terrifically daunting. What if I’m busy, ill, tired, out socialising, etc. etc?? All the usual things which get in the way of all our writing aspirations.

I figure I should still be able to find just 10 minutes to write something… anything! It may be a few swift additions to a character back-story for Novel Number Two. It may be a more considered outline for a new short story (another sort-of resolution – turn some of those sketches that will never stretch to novels into short stories). Or it may, on the really good days, be a full 3 hours or more of charging joyfully through flowing prose.

Whichever way up, it’s the exercise that counts. Am I right people? Just like getting fit, or singing (I guess) or training your memory, it’s the act of doing something which improves your strengths therein. Or so I hope.

Some of that work may make its way onto this very blog. In fact, I may have to cheat very occasionally and say that a blog post counts as my writing for the day.

Bending the rules already and I’m only 4 days in.

Whatever your goals aspirations, dreams and self-promises for the year ahead, I wish you all a fantastically productive and fabulously creative 2013!

May the muse be with you.

The Doldrums

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Give us a leg-up anyone?

Give us a leg-up anyone?

In case you were wondering (how very kind of you…), yes I’m still here!

Hello again. *waves*

I haven’t blogged for almost a month – exactly the same length of time for which I have written not one word of the new novel. And I’ve been wondering why.

Somehow, I simply haven’t had the words. I ran out of things to say. The whole process of attempting to get the first novel published – either by a proper commercial publisher or self-published – seems so daunting once you have a manuscript and a huge mountain in front of you that it kind of knocked the wind from my sails. Added to which, now the book’s written, I’ve managed to convince myself it’s not very good. Self-doubt and self-ambush rolled into one. There’s too much ‘self’ with us lot isn’t there?

OK, so people keep telling me it IS good, but I’ve stalled and prevaricated over writing a query letter and trying to make the synopsis sound any better. There’s a whole post over there in the archive about the trauma of writing a synopsis, if you’re interested. I found it a hideous task and one which was instrumental in making me think: “Is the book really about that?? Oh God. How mundane.”

However.

I’ve just been tagged in The Next Big Thing blog-hop by the fabulous Kristina (thank you!). Reading her post about her novel helped me understand that we all feel this way about our writing sometimes.

I think, for me, it was an almost post-ecstatic lull; finally achieving something you’ve wanted to do all your life is a pretty major event really, isn’t it? Oh yes it is (gearing up for panto season there…)

After that, it’s only natural to feel a sense of loss and disappointment, even with a new project to move onto. And there’s the added bitter twinge of “So what’s it all for anyway?” Why start a second novel if I don’t know what to do with the first? There are only so many drawers in my house and I need some of them for things other than unpublished manuscripts. Like forks. And string. And the little plastic hooks they use to fix telephone wires to the skirting board.

It’s time for a kick up the bum I think. A very good friend and extraordinarily talented writer is reviewing the MS for me. I know he’ll rip whole chapters to shreds in order to improve it, but I’m determined to take that in the constructive sense in which it’s meant. I’m also going to revisit the synopsis and make it sound as mysterious, enticing and thought-provoking as the novel itself genuinely is.

That’s the first couple of foothills conquered right there. The push to the summit is on.

As my SatNav declares – in the voice of the indomitable Brian Blessed – every time I reach my destination: “Onward and upward! To Everest next and then the North Pole!!”

I think I’m back.

I’ll Make This Brief

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Goodness gracious me, I thought writing a title was hard work.

You’ll recall me complaining about that last week no doubt. No? In that case, it’s over here (but come back soon).

Having (almost) come up with a working title that works, then changed it again, changed it back, gone back to the original title, then broken down sobbing and shaking uncontrollably, screaming “It’s only a few words!! How can it be so HARD??”, I asked Delightful Other Half for help. She came up with a stormer straight away.

So, one more trauma safely behind me, I launched straight into the synopsis.

Oh dear Lord, the synopsis. Is this some evil ruse by agents to weed out writers who don’t have what it takes to survive an SAS training regime followed by several months of being locked in a coal bunker?

I’ve already written the damn book and now you want me to write it again, only shorter? Shorter, but containing all the same information and emotion?? What kind of twisted sadists are you lot?

And if I don’t get it absolutely spot-on, you won’t even get as far as taking a teeny little peek-ette at the other 85,000 words I’ve toiled for four years over?

How about if I just stick a whole wodge of tenners to a sheet of A4 and we’ll call that your motivation to read the book?

Pretty please?

**Gratuitous over-use of question marks in this post should be excused on the grounds of synopsis psychosis**