Hi ho, hi ho, a NaNo-ing I go.


It’s that time of year again.

For most normal, reasonable people, the end of October means pumpkin lanterns, fancy dress and the start of the party season. The nights draw in, the leaves fall from the trees, the squirrels run away with the last of the acorns, all that cozy stuff that means winter and Christmas will soon be on its way.

Then there’s NaNo-ers. You know who you are.
To a NoNo-er, the end of October means either blind panic, mad excitement, a frenzy of organization, or some combination of the above. If you’re a planner there’s novel outlining, character profiling, world building, and research galore to be done. If you’re a seat-of-the-pants-er, there’s well, nail biting, day dreaming and nervous bouncing to be done. It means warning your friends and family that you are about to disappear in a puff of fiction for a month, start babbling incoherently at anyone who asks you anything not novel related and possibly need committing by the end of it.

So, consider this fair warning. November is National Novel Writing Month, and I am a NaNo-er, for better or worse. As of Tuesday morning, apart from the freelance articles I have to write for clients; a weekly phone call to my mum; the two hours or so I can drag myself away from the computer to spend with Dek between him getting up and going to work; and whatever sleep I can get with a brain racing at 2000 words per minute (when my fingers can only manage 60 at most, and get tied up in knots at that) I won’t be around much.

When I am around I will have a faraway look on my face, and may call you by a fictional character’s name. I may run away from you in search of paper and pen, or start thumb typing furiously on my BB. Or I may not notice you are even there.

I would like to say sorry, but, well, it’s November, and well, that’s just how it is. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time for Christmas. Looking worn out and a little insane perhaps, but back. Enjoy November, and I’ll see you in a month.

Why I'm Indie till I die

Up until about a year ago the long suffering self-publishing author,defending their decision to go it alone, rather than succumb to the media mill of big publishing houses, would have been forced to fall back on the argument that, “Mark Twain did it.”

Or to point out the long list of distinguished authors whose classics grace thousands of libraries, from Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley to T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence; Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe and Leo Tolstoi. Heck, even Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and Louis L’Amour backed their own work.

But as a struggling writer, falling back on a strategy that puts your unheard-of work in the same category as, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” can come across more than a little conceited, even to yourself.

Things have changed in the last year. There are a new rash of successful self-published authors around for us new starters to not only point at as examples, but to read their books and blogs, and learn from.

John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, for example. OK, so Konrath’s Jack Daniels series was published by Hyperion before he turned his back on traditional publishing. John Locke had a successful business career before deciding to self-publish his Donovan Creed series. Amanda Hocking is young, edgy and cool. And enormously hard working.

But here’s the thing. Konrath’s first novel, “Whiskey Sour,” was described as a, “cliché-ridden first novel [that] should find a wide audience among less discriminating suspense fans,” by Publisher’s Weekly. He’s currently on 12 published books and counting.

Locke freely admits he doesn’t take his writing too seriously, and doesn’t expect his readers to either. That hasn’t prevented every book he’s ever written becoming an Amazon Bestseller. Nor did it stop him becoming the first ever self-published author, and only the 8th in history, to sell over 1 million ebooks on the Kindle platform.

Hocking credits the success of her young adult paranormal novels, (complete with trolls, zombies and of course vampires) more to her self-promotional attempts and the popularity of the genre than to anything else. Mostly her self promotional efforts. Didn’t stop her landing a book deal with St Martin’s, turning down Amazon because they wanted exclusive ebook rights.

Now, I’m not young cool and egdy. My step kids call me Squishy, for crying out loud, (As in, “I shall call you Squishy, and you shall be my friend.” Thanks, Nemo.) I don’t have a string of books published by a traditional publishing house, and I opened a florist shop on the eve of the worst financial crisis in my lifetime.

I make a meagre living writing web pages for clients, and write fiction in my spare time, though. Which should tell you something about how much I love writing, if nothing else. And I know how to Tweet, answer emails and make new friends.

So this is me, throwing my “cap in the ring.” I may never be a John Locke, a Joe Konrath or an Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going away. I’m not selling out to a traditional publisher, I’m not going to confine myself to a single genre, and I’m not going to pack in doing the one thing I enjoy most – telling stories. I couldn’t. All those characters screaming in my head would drive me insane.