Tag Archives: publishing

Adventures in writing…westerns at 84

Okay, so this month, I’m off to the UK for a well-deserved holiday. Well, that’s how I see it. I’m worried about the heat. It is 40 degrees here in Spain (that’s about 110 degrees Fahrenheit), but I see on the news temperatures are hitting 35 over in Blighty! Maybe it will be like the time I went to Berlin, thinking it would be so much cooler. So much so, I didn’t pack any shorts. And boy did I regret it! I’ve known such heat. Anyway, this time I will pack some, as I will be visiting Parkgate and, as you all know, that is an infamous place for getting burnt, so I’ll pack the sun cream too.

Well, here I am getting all excited and just before I go, I have read an interesting post from Simon Kernick about his struggles with his latest book. Simon is a great writer, with a list of truly fantastic thrillers, so the thought of him battling over a book, reaching 20 pages and abandoning it, kind of gives me some hope.

Well, I say that, but having just entered a writing competition, I’m not so sure.

This competition was supposed to be therapy for the state of the publishing industry at the moment. I am becoming increasingly frustrated at the speed with which they work. I want my books out there, but no…I have to wait. And I’m very impatient. I’m old. I am running out of time and I’m trying to make up for all those years I’ve lost being a pratt. I write like a lunatic, but the publishers don’t care. They go along at their sweet merry rate. Snail-s pace that means. No wonder so many opt for self-publishing. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I entered this competition to prove I have lots of other books waiting, waiting, forever waiting. But I was hoodwinked into believing this had something to do with writing. It hadn’t. It was a popularity competition and, as I know full well, I’m not very popular. I didn’t realise this until my good friends began to vote. Five votes. The leader had 50. I had no chance, so I withdrew.

So now, I’m totally pissed off.

I had thought about giving it all up. I still might. Maybe when I’ve completed my Hardrada series. I’m going to write the fifth volume, then perhaps jack it all in. When I’m…around 85 maybe. That seems like a good time.

We’ll see.

Until then, I have tons of books to write. I believe my best one hasn’t been written yet.

But I’m not going to be put off because people don’t buy my books, or support me, or anything else. Well, I say no ne. That’s not quite true. A lovely, lovely friend at work bought my first Varangian book and she was so amazed I almost burst into tears. Sometimes, people say and do the most amazing things.

I’m going to keep going, keep writing. I have the sequel to my don Luis book to complete AND, as a little tonic, I have decided to write a Western. And, do you know what, I love it. You never know, this just might be the one.

But it won’t be until I’m 84 before I know it.

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Adventures in writing…a month of commemorations!

This has been an interesting, and moving year, so far.

Interesting because it has been a steep learning curve for me with regard to publishers. I knew they worked slowly, but never quite how slowly. Of course, this is because they have lots of work with mountains of authors in the queue before me, I understand that, but nevertheless it is frustrating.

But I’m philosophical. I have now reached the stage where I don’t care.

If it takes them three years to get round to me, then so be it. I’m not going to worry. What will be will be. When they ask me to promote, get in touch with the press, libraries, Twitter and Facebook…I might just wait myself. Wait and wait.

Let me reiterate. I DO NOT CARE. I forked out a lot of money for a virtual book tour, a Twitter campaign, etc., etc., Result? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. So, no more of that thank you very much. I’m not wasting another penny on any of these awful campaigns. They don’t work. End of.

Now, the moving bit, for which I DO care. Quite a lot.

2015 has been an extraordinary year for commemorating some of the most important dates in our calendar.

April was a time to remember the horrors of Gallipoli, Churchill’s dream of knocking Turkey out of the Great War and putting immense pressure on the Germans. It was a disaster. battle_of_gallipoliToo many died in what was to become a nightmare campaign. But we need to remember; for the men who gave their lives and to instruct our youth about the utter futility of war.

June. What a month (as I’m writing this, it is not yet over!). The fifteenth saw my school joining in with many others in the commemorations going on all around Runnymede for the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Actually, that is wrong. King John didn’t sign it, he couldn’t read or write. He put his seal on it. Anyway, my school asked the question and were given the answer, and named, by Dan Snow, who is a cool guy.

Then, the 18th June. Waterloo. waterlooThere is not much more to be said about this battle, one of the most important ever fought. A terrible day, but even so I would have loved to have gone to Belgium to watch the re-enactment, but of course I couldn’t. I have bought all the stamps and the coins…and a French army in 10mm however, so that is something!

In October, it is the 600th anniversary of Agincourt…

What a year…and next year…2016, is the Somme, and the Norman invasion (950 years since Duke William came a-calling!).

Mm…I might have to buy some more figures!

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Adventures in writing … thoughts on those how-to guides

Coming to the end of what has been a great summer holiday, writing is proving somewhat difficult. It’s too hot, my head is still firmly stuck in Cumbria, and I have so much to do I don’t know where to begin.

I’m waiting on a book to be finalised, cover chosen, printed, etc. I sent it out to some beta-readers (whatever that means) and they picked up a few tiny problems. The editor said this would happen, that the more people who read it the better. Anyway, all being well, it should be out by the end of September 2014.

Two different publishers have accepted two other books of mine for publication. So, I’m happy. Of course I am. It doesn’t mean I’m Lee Child, but at least I’m getting out there. All being well, another three books published by the end of this year will see my tally growing to 18 published works.

Then I receive an email and all of this euphoria is dashed.

It was one of those junk-mail things; you know the ones I mean, the same sort that used to come through your door in the days before the Internet, or which were stuffed inside the Radio Times. Well, it’s the same thing. A host of stuff you simply have no interest in whatsoever. This one was a little more interesting, but extremely annoying.

It was from Kindle. You may have heard of them. They ambushed me with a long list of books and every single one of them offered me the chance to ‘Write a mystery book that sells’, or discover ‘The Easy Way to Write Fantasy’, and even, ‘Make money through writing fiction!’.

Okay, I know there is a whole army of people out there now who want to write a book. So they do. And Kindle gives them all the tools. And now, here we have every guide known to man, written by established authors, all of whom want you to achieve great success and earn heaps of money.

Whoo-hoo!

Mm…Okay, let’s just backtrack a little here.

First, there is nothing wrong with wanting to write a book. In fact, it’s great. I am forever encouraging people to write. The mechanics of writing means, simply put, hard work. To write 100,000 words takes a lot of graft. BUT, if you want to do it, you can. However, you need to know one or two painful truths. One, I do not believe story telling can be taught. WRITING can, but not story telling. Anyone can write. Anyone can learn grammar, syntax and all the rest. Cool. But is that creating stories which make your jaw drop to the floor, which have you crying like a baby into your pillow, or laughing aloud like a hyena on crystal-meth? No. I do not believe anybody can be taught how to tell a good story. It’s not just about structure, the snowflake, starting from the middle or the end, or from wherever you want to start from. It’s something, which lives inside you, something which will not let go, which dominates every waking moment of every single day. If you can’t tell a story, there is no point in picking up a how-to book. So, if you do have the knack, if you can hold people’s attention with tales of daring-do, why not pick up one of these guides?

Because they don’t work.

Because they all say the same things.

And it makes my blood boil, because there are probably thousands of people out there buying these things. And they are selling more than I am, and that hacks me off too.

No, I believe the only way to learn how to write is…to write. Write and read. Then read some more. Get a publisher who believes in you, and an editor who can fix the stupid grammar bits you missed. I’m forever getting mixed up with past and passed. And I’ve been told off more than once for using ‘started to’ or ‘beginning with’. So, I’m not going to use those again. But my editor doesn’t tell me how to plot. She doesn’t order me to change scenes and characters, etc. The reason they accepted my book in the first place was because the story was damned good. The grammar was okay, but that is easily fixed. A bad story can never be fixed.

I looked up some of the authors of these guides, see how they were doing with their own books. Well, one or two were doing fine, but most were not. And the reviews they were receiving left a lot to be desired. So, have they written these guides to make money, to prey on the dreams of aspiring novelists, by offering them the ‘Teach yourself How To Be An Author’ way to fame and fortune?

Of course they have. And people buy these things! Why not join a writing club, get down to your library, read your stories to kids, or even adults, sign up to Authonomy or YouWriteOn? Get some feedback, do the leg-work, learn the craft.  And when you’ve written one book and you’ve submitted it, write another. And keep writing! That’s the key, not a secret to be found in the pages of a 75 cent guide that is shooting up the charts all because so many have swallowed the bait.

I keep saying it; writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. But it seems as if not many prospective wannabe Harlan Cobens out there have quite come to terms with this fact yet.

For news of my latest books and when they are available, keep checking out my website. www.stuartygyates.com

Thanks for dropping by, and don’t worry, I won’t be writing any guides to getting published…not now, not ever.

Keep reading!

 

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