Weekly Ramble #44

It’s taken every ounce of my writing strength to reach this moment. Those words, those two words only the real writers will ever know and feel. It’s removal but with satisfaction. It’s acceptance but regret knowing it probably isn’t the best you could do, but nonetheless the track is laid, the motions are in place and the draft is done. Everything else after is yet to come and this is truly the beginning.

The real hard part is done. Getting it out of the thought process and onto pages and into words. Although some elements remain incomplete I am without the strength to carry on. I’ve used it all up creating something only now I was totally ready for. I’ve been on this journey since I was twelve years old, I realized this dream at fifteen and at thirty I finished drafting it. My whole life, my whole purpose as a story teller is to tell one story, everything else is for that, to prepare myself as a writer, to learn my craft, to find my voice, all of it is for that story I first devised over half my life ago.

Dreams have that power, they drive our existence and go deeper than anyone could possibly imagine. They grow as you do, they fight with you and they fight for you. Dreams can be bold, they can be crazy, they can be absurd but they are ours, and nothing will ever take them from us. The characters in my head have carried my dreams with me for as long as I remember and soon, on the horizon compared to the road before me, they will appear for everyone else. I urge you all to dream on, you never know where it will take you…

Jack Thorn and the maverick prophecy is a story that will change science fiction. And I’ll prove a bunch of people wrong along the way… feel that fire inside me yet, its wholly and entirely mine, but you’re invited to help it burn too…

Advertisements

Weekly Ramble #43

And so the final words of Jack Thorn appear on the horizon. What stands before me is still a mountain of a task but behind me is 100,000 plus words drafted of a story that I originally created fifteen years ago; the first attempt came out with 40,000 words, I guess that’s the true reflection of how much I’ve grown over the years much like this book which will change science fiction – I suppose one can dream… 

This book and it’s contents I carry with me, everywhere I go, I have done since I was a teen so why did I decide to write this now?

Jack Thorn is and always will be home to me, it’s my dream book, the one I have always wanted to read. This year has been hard, I knew that from the onset, and so because I moved into my own place I needed something to make me feel at home, and I’ve decided now to that this attempt is justifiable by the fact I’ve learned how to write and tell stories by simply doing that.

I care so much about this story that I was willing to put it to one side and delve into other worlds so I can hone this craft I now have before me. I wanted to be my very best for this tale and it’s been a long journey and even now I have battled to carve a path I mostly already knew, it just needed to be updated, polished and adapted to today’s standards.

The full title I have now chosen and will reveal in time. Hopefully by the end of the month ‘Jack Thorn’ would have been drafted. I said next year’s plan I would be querying, but I will probably be editing for a long while.

The ultimate question you probably have is what’s the premise of Jack Thorn? Like all of my stuff it appears as one thing but is actually a stack of different things – right?

Jack Thorn is a science fiction epic about robots in the future. But it’s really about; friendship, family, war, prophecy and above all humanity. From what started as quite simple story has spider webbed into a epic mess of a story and journey of darkness, action, fun, emotion and destiny.

After all these years this dream stands strong, every single word of it…

300 Followers Special

There aren’t a lot of folks out there who realise their dream at the age of twelve and then stick to it. Life happens, we grow up, we move away, we get jobs, we build a family, some have their hearts broken, some lose fortunes and others become a success. Throughout my life all of those things have happened to me in some capacity but no matter what has happened I have never ever let go of that dream I had. And like anything worthwhile having in this world it takes work and it takes time.

I’ve never considered myself an academic or clever in any capacity, the daunting task of writing a book is something I taught myself, something I found within because that desire I had, that dream, never ever died. And yeah, it started out awful, maybe a sentence in one hundred actually sounded good, but the story, the story has always been in my heart. I’ve known for a long time I wanted to be a writer, a story teller or whatever you call it. My calling was realised way back when I was reading and found myself immersed in a world to the point where I forgot my own. I was floating in another world and that desire to immerse others like I have been is where all of this stands.

Eventually that solitary good sentence was paired with another, and then another and before I knew it, I had a book’s worth of stuff. After all this is just words or good ideas in an orderly fashion. Long gone are the days when I would come home from work and then my actual work would begin nightly. Four hours a night for four years I toiled and typed, figuring out how the hell I’m gonna get these stories inside me onto a page. But I did it, by hard work and dedication alone.

There is no real science to hard work, you show up, you roll up those sleeves and you get to it. Results don’t happen at the start and they should never be expected on this solitary journey, results are a side effect of that work and those words you put down.

I started this blog to put my words somewhere for others to enjoy. Whether or not they enjoyed them is their choice. What effect our art has on people can be wonderfully unexpected. If you work at it and try to improve eventually you will and eventually something awesome will happen; you’ll gain a following, some people who you may never see in the flesh but they are there because they can feel something in your words, in your art. Some of them will even be immersed. Eventually people will listen to what you have to say but you’ve got to be persistent. 

My number one lesson in blogging is simple: Create content that people want. Have something that people want. And be persistent. 

To have 300 people follow this blog has been an enduring journey of figuring stuff out. I already knew how to write but to find a way to write that reaches and speaks to people, that is the true art of blogging and I am only just realising that. I know this is pretty deep for a blog post but these words are truth, they are real. And when something is real, people listen.

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog. To those who like my stuff without fail and who are always there for me. To those just starting this journey with me and to everyone else. 

 

 

The question of how…

We’re better than any star rating. Our stuff is better than any star rating, good or bad. There isn’t a review out there that really reflects the journey a writer has taken to lay down those words. So many that judge simply do not know and most will never know. A book is more than a collection of words. It’s a journey created by an anthology of feelings that person has gone through in life and in mind.

There is no formal teaching for telling a story. One finds that within and their ability is tracked through the works they give to the world. Those words in that time are a moment but the creator is already several moments into the future.

What you discover in the present could be another writers past. They may have already used those words to better themselves and to grow or to learn. Not many will ever understand that; but as I said they just don’t know. And maybe that is the real difference of creator and reader; one has the real appreciation for the process, the journey, the feeling and the want; the desire to get better and move forward constantly.

Our work will be perceived as good today but we want it to get better tomorrow making our work yesterday open for criticism but maybe just important to the person who created it.

Most artists will never face the question of why but more the question of how. Perhaps that’s something which is overlooked when judging work… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indie Book Sequels: Are they worth it?

The title of this post presents itself as a question I have tried to find an answer to from experience. There are still many pros and cons to it floating around in my head; so in my divine wisdom I have decided to explore this question via a blog post and because my experience from releasing an indie book sequel wasn’t the best…

Background

When I write a story my mind is forever in expansion mode. I am always looking for an opportunity to tell a back story or plant something for later on; this even goes as far as planting stuff for books later on in a series. This may sound visionary and I suppose it is BUT it’s also a curse because while I’m standing over in book three, people haven’t even picked up book one yet! – that’s not a unique problem in indie publishing, our biggest challenge is product distribution…

I very much enjoy the thinking ‘fourth dimensionally’ writing style in fact there isn’t a better satisfaction in writing than seeing a long term plan pull together and that’s what I like to do. But to evolve or even edit the title of this post let me ask this:

Are indies just better off writing stand alone stories? 

Beginners luck

copy-of-cover

I present the question above with an intention to answer it with logic as opposed to experience because if we look at it on simple terms, and this doesn’t just extend to indies but books in general, who is going to buy book 3 of a series if nobody really read or knows about 1 and 2…

My writing faced that answer very early on and in 2016 I was set to release my first book ‘Open Evening’ which is now part of the wider ‘Order of the Following’ series (this is the first time I have named that series publicly, consider it an exclusive, thank me in the comments). Due to my writing style the latter stages of Open Evening was set up and left open (no pun intended) so that a sequel could be explored some time in the near future.

The expectation I had in selling this book wasn’t particularly high but it did relatively well and shifted a bunch of paperbacks, did the rounds on social media and in all left me felling pretty darn good. There wasn’t any profits but I had made my official arrival as an author known.

Move on to the next one

image

After finishing a book; the best thing an author can do, if they really are an author is to move on and write something else. Enter my vampire caper ‘Darke Blood’ which before Open Evening found it’s final edit became linked to this book by way of some (clever) back story.

So to put this into context, these books are separate but sit in the same universe; so it’s Iron Man and Captain America. If you read both you will see where they are linked, it’s fairly obvious.

Listen to the heart

Unfortunately this is where my thinking fourth dimensionally curse struck. I really wanted to do an Open Evening sequel, there was more story to tell and explain, there was even opportunity to link back to Darke Blood. So I did it, and ‘Cemetery House’ was born.

I knew from the offset that my readership would in fact be very limited, but I did that thing where the urge to tell a story took over everything else, and now I still don’t regret that decision.

It kicked my ass

By the time I had finally got ‘Cemetery House’ released in late October of last year (2018) I was facing being ‘done’ with writing, possibly forever. It hit me that hard. Not the writing process, not the editing process, or even Amazon being fail because their stupid KDP software didn’t like the format of the book for ages so didn’t accept it. All of it hit me hard, to a point where I pretty much faced a level of depression I have never seen or experienced ever.

This sequel ended up being a bad day that just got worse. And so then came the icing of the three tiered cake of shit; pretty much nobody bought the damn thing…

cem house

Facing reality

There are a huge amount of factors as to why ‘Cemetery House’ went the way it did. Mostly because I put my expectation on a pedestal and didn’t accept reality where Open Evening had only been out 2 years when the sequel arrived. My following was nowhere near the amount I have now. The promotional efforts, well they were okay actually but without the following, well there’s the problem.

It hurt. Big time, and I probably did it to myself more than anything. 2018 was a huge year for me. I released The Teleporter half a year previous to ‘CH’ and only now is it getting any type of traction.

This stuff takes time. It takes thought and above all it takes a suit of armour to protect yourself sometimes from yourself. Most of this stuff is on your head. I have always said as an author success is in the eye of the beholder.

But the beauty of this is simple, I can happily talk about it and accept it for what it is. I have 4 books published. I did that in 2 years. Cemetery House has 0 reviews and not a lot of sales but it stands shoulder to shoulder with 3 other books that make up the 4. And they are mine

The drive home

Screenshot_2019-05-09-12-49-58

There was an album I listened to religiously while creating ‘Cemetery House’. In fact its by one of my favorite bands. For near enough half a year after publication of that book I couldn’t face listening to any of those great songs. That was until last night, when I took in the whole album at level 18 volume.

The conclusion I have is simple. If you have more story to tell and your heart is telling you to write it, then write it. We do this because above all it makes us feel something in this rather cold world. We’ve all had bad reviews and good reviews. Sales and no sales. Just do what you wanna do to feel happy in writing and fu** everything else.

Thanks for reading my story about my stories and a little insight to how I got here. It means a bunch to have your support, have you got any sequel gripes? Let me know in the comments. 

dfw-lh-3dx2

Weekly Ramble #19

For as long as there are people there will always be readers. No matter how language and writing changes or evolves, books will get written. Technology continually moves on, but writing and reading is an almost invulnerable medium. 

Books are instant immersion, there is no buffering, loading or bandwidth, just pages and words; sometimes illustrations and diagrams all of which sit on the shelf readily available. The epiphany is,this hasn’t changed since intelligent humans emerged or evolved into who we are today. People have always told stories and people have always read them.

I hear people constantly say ‘I don’t write anything with my hands anymore’ and that ‘writing’ is dying. It isn’t, writing is just evolving, the language has always been there and so will the words. From pen to keyboard is just a minor jump but the words remain mostly the same and so does the presence of books.

The amount of people who read is and always will be greater than those who don’t, even with society apparently being ‘dumber’ today. We want to escape, all of us, and we want to escape now, even with all this hyper on demand stuff like Netflix and youtube nothing beats the cinema that is the human mind.

Written words are manifested by each and every imagination differently and that truly defines the wonder of books. Whether they are electronic or not; they are still books and they play out in the greatest studio ever created, the most powerful studio every built, the human mind; the place where these stories are fostered and created.

Whether it be fiction, non fiction, manuals, text books, scripts, screenplays, poetry, blogs, Facebook statuses, tweets and beyond. People will always read and who ever created it is releasing something that is a part of them. Whether it’s a character based on someone they know of, or an experience which has stuck with them, or just the passing of knowledge, when you are reading, you are taking on the essence of somebody else’s mind and their embodiment. Writers have lived a hundred lives and written thousands of words, all of which is created for the reader to live that life also…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author self interview: Lee Hall

Today see’s the beginning of a new series of posts called ‘Ask the author’. I will be interviewing myself about all things books, writing and being an indie author…

 

image

Lee Hall 

How long have you been writing for? 

Since around the age of twelve I started putting together stories on an old window’s 98 computer. Seeing as I’m in my mid to late twenties that’s quite a while…

So it sounds like you’ve known for some time this is what you have always wanted to do. How successful have you been as an indie author? 

Well success as an author or success at anything in life is in the eye of the beholder. In terms of statistics I have sold around 100 copies of my books combined. In terms of money, I haven’t made anything near what people perceive. But then again I am not in this for the money. To have a few people take a selfie of my book and leave a few reviews is enough for me to grant a project successful.

What are you in writing for? 

To immerse people into worlds as I have been as a reader. There is no greater theater than the human mind. Books really do rule and they help the human imagination grow.

You currently have two books published, could you describe the both of them in three words? 

Open Evening – Teenage Terror Chase

Darke Blood – Vampires Witches Identity

What are you currently working on? 

I have been drafting two projects so far this year. The first was just a bit of fun and can be best described as a vanity project, whenever I am in between books I delve into it but I’m not telling you what it is just yet.

The second project I am currently drafting is the sequel to Open Evening! I am 80% through draft one of Cemetery House with a view to publish in 2018! For those who follow me via email I will be looking to send out sample stuff to followers!

Both Open Evening and Darke Blood can both be considered as horror or at least thriller in genre. Is there any other genre’s you would consider writing in the future? 

Hell yeah! I am currently putting together initial plans (in my mind) for a comic book style super hero comedy. This would be a novella or at least a shorter novel, so watch this space!

db and oe

Darke Blood and Open Evening by Lee Hall 

 

What advice would you give an aspiring author in terms of marketing a book? 

Start talking about your book now! Tweet, Facebook status and blog the hell out of it. Of course don’t shove it down people’s throats, be cool and subtle. The greatest way to sell a book is via networking and word of mouth. Get people talking online and sharing stuff, a good support network of friends will help to kick things off. You can read more on marketing in my resources section here

 

And that’s the first part of my self interview, thank you for reading and of course if you have a burning question get in contact and I will feature it along with an answer next time!  

Darke Blood Goodreads Giveaway

It’s time for a Giveaway! Yes free stuff alert, because I have began a Goodreads giveaway for my latest book Darke Blood…

You can get your hands on a signed copy of my latest book by entering the giveaway for free here! In order to enter you can sign in to Goodreads through Facebook making this whole deal a lot easier than signing up to a site you may not use often. I am asking for an honest review in exchange of entering the giveaway because it’s all about reviews, reviews and more reviews! Over 100 people have entered so far!

With publication day and the release of Darke Blood behind me now its up to the rest of the world to help spread the word about the book. Reviews are what sell books and must I implore you to leave one on either amazon or goodreads  or both; even if you are only a portion of the way though Darke Blood, every review helps! 

And some of you have been fantastic in showing your support, the #darkeblood selfie movement has begun which is massive in getting the book seen across social media.

Publication Day! Darke Blood out now!

The day is finally here! My second book Darke Blood is officially out now! The selfies already started earlier this week after I kicked off proceedings on Instagram where I can happily say we have already broke records with the amount of likes it recieved.

image

That many likes for something without a cat, food or cleavage…

And that is all I want out of this book, growth and evolution. A few more sales and few more likes than last time will make me a happy independently published author.   Above all more reviews on Amazon and hopefully Goodreads will grant this project a success, so please if you read my work leave a review!

I must take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support towards Darke Blood, this was indeed the hardest story I have ever struggled to tell and seeing the whole thing come together with your support has been fantastic. Being a two time author makes this all seem like I am more than just a lucky one off guy who published one book, plus it gives readers a back catalogue to delve into if they like my work.

If you like Darke Blood and survive the ride,  the twists and the turns then I guarantee you will be a reader of my stuff for years to come. This one really tests the boundaries for the reader as well as tell an atmospheric psychological story of redemption and identity. And yeah there are vampires, witches and some connections to Open Evening!

This hasn’t been a sole effort and I must thank my editor and publisher Nicky from Satin Publishing for helping me so much develop this story into what was an initial draft all the way to polished published book. Darke Blood went through many minor and major changes throughout the drafting and editing process. My next thank you goes to Design for Writers , they simply gave this book an identity by creating a fantastic looking cover. I was really stumped as to what I wanted this one to look like so Design for Writers saved me in that sense and the outcome is a world class looking cover.

All there is left for to say is thank you everyone, I have achieved my dream once again and now it’s over to you to help me find some success with it. Let’s start a new selfie movement with Darke Blood and remember your shares, likes and comments are what generates buzz about this, and will ultimately decide its success!

Happy publication Day!

And heres the direct link to the book…

A guide to getting published: Part 1

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are several inputs that result in different outputs, but luckily for you this is my road map of a journey which started in 2012.

First of all above anything you have to answer the 3 following questions…

So you want to be a writer?

I was twelve years old when I first started writing on that old windows 98 computer, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon… Everyone has their story and mine probably isn’t any different to how you or anyone else realized they wanted to be a wordsmith. It’s the very first thing you must decide, do you really want to do this?

For me I just had a story in my mind which expanded by tenfold over the years, it grew with me as I became an adult and never ever went away. Sometimes you should listen to the various characters in your head even if they do talk out of term. This persistent universe which I had created convinced me that I should one day show it to the world and hence question number 1 was answered.

writingDo you have what it takes to dedicate yourself?

You have to be really dedicated! No I really mean that…

Again I’m being subjective when say this because I can only relate it to my experience. Are you ready to dedicate the hours and time into putting together a story that is made purely from organic thought? Are you willing to learn the translation process?

Translation huh, you ask. Writing is nothing more than taking a thought in your brain and converting into written word. But the big revelation is that you don’t have to be that good at it to be successful! And most writers are judged for their particular style of translation.

So can you translate what you see in your mind into words and sentences?

To be honest in the earlier days I struggled immensely with my description and detail. This is something which will only improve after spending hours practicing and even now I struggle. Back space will feature heavily along with giving your laptop or computer screen the death stare of ‘vacancy’.

My original routine consisted of coming home from work, taking a shower, making a cup of tea and then spending 4 hours writing. This grasping the translation stuff doesn’t happen overnight and for nearly two years I was writing more than I was doing anything else outside of work. Was the stuff I made any good? Probably not and I would even say that out of that 4 hours of work 30 minutes of it produced anything readable. It does take time and there is no short cut to putting in hours.

Nowadays my process has evolved as I have. I will spend up to an hour drafting new material, and all of it mostly readable work!

In this step you will have to financially commit yourself in buying a PC or laptop. Unfortunately and as romantic as pen and paper is, it’s just not the fashion!

So do you have what it takes to put in the time?

Okay so you’re dedicated but it still isn’t enough!

Are you the right person to call yourself a writer?

This is NOT a deep reflective question where you will spend days pondering about what your calling is in life. Take it at face value. Are you willing to be very very patient, so patient that it’s a discipline.

There is no better way to look professional and serious by being patient/cool about things. Just breathe and relax.

So you’ve sent a dozen copies of your manuscript out and haven’t received a reply. You may never will and what have you lost? Sending stuff out to zero response will happen but the concept of not being bothered by any results will really give you a one up. There are probably many many sorry cases of people following up and demanding they read their manuscript and consider it to be the next Harry Potter series. Just be cool and if someone likes what you write, they’ll find you trust me.

Mold yourself into a patient and professional person even if this is just a hobby. There is no excuse for bad manners in life and writing is no exception.

This will be a journey of solitude, and by that most of the time nothing really happens other than you, a laptop and the story. So be prepared to be alone, only a writer becomes a story teller alone.

Prepare to be criticized and judged. People react in weird ways when you say you’re a writer. How you handle that will define how you take any criticism.

write 2

Next comes the real journey…

I can’t physically teach you how to write and develop a work process, that’s up to you to figure out.

So you’ve written your masterpiece and edited it over and over again until all you see in those words is white noise.

Now it’s time for the big plunge, going public!

Arrive on social media and figure it all out

In order to build a profile as an author you have to have an online presence.

You can do this as you are writing, but to really be taken seriously you must be on social media. I began with small baby steps, I created an author page on Facebook and then got all my friends to like it. Over time friends of friends will engage and as you network other writer types will join in.

Next came twitter and eventually I got myself into blogging which is a big thing these days.

Blogging is an opportunity to talk and not be interrupted, its also an opportunity to share your opinion to the world. Whether that be a topical review, pressing journalism or just an update about what you are writing. A blog is a center piece to your online presence. Give it a catchy and even a slightly humorous name. Remember we aren’t curing disease here we are just arranging words together that turns into something that reads well. Have fun, be silly, be serious but above all be there! To date my most successful blog post is nothing about books, its about Yoga! 

Social media success is somewhat an enigma at times. It’s not all about ‘hey I’m a writer and my big book is coming next year’. You almost have to go fight club and not actually talk about that sort of stuff. It’s sounds weird but it’s true. Post stuff that you find interesting and may not be relevant to writing, you may just find yourself with a new follower or comment. In my resources section you can see a brief guide to social media including the use of Instagram. 

And so you’ve taken the plunge into deciding you want to be a writer. By now you may have even completed a first draft, and yes my first drafts are also awful. The Facebook page has been launched and you have started to blog. You may even be thinking about how weird twitter really is.

Your building blocks are starting to form a foundation towards getting a book out there! 

Part 2 will feature my journey and the choices I made in getting my first book published! We will cover the details of what goes into being independently published and what you need to do to get there.