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Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Writing Full Time – an Experiment

I’ve been off work for five days – it’s a long Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK.  I’ve also had the house to myself because wife and child have gone camping with friends for four days.  (I didn’t go.  I’m too much of a wimp to tolerate the discomfort of living semi-rough.)

So, while I had the house to myself I decided to see what would be like if I had nothing to do except write (and of course the list of jobs my Good Lady left me).  As I’ve had half a week, I decided to devote half a working week (eighteen hours) to writing over the four days. 

I gave myself most of Saturday off to go the match.  Sadly I’d have been better off writing.

I’ve always limited the number of words I produce.  I prefer to take my time to write something resembling quality than churn out copious amounts of rubbish that need more time putting into order later.  My limit is 3,500 words a week, simply because it averages at 500 words a day, although I rarely hit this limit.  I kept myself to this maximum this weekend.

So, did I fill my time with writing?

Oh, yes.  Because I limit my output, I found I had much more time for other writing things.  And, because writing was my priority - it wasn’t crammed in the odd half hour around work and family - I found the whole experience much more relaxing than I expected.

I managed to catch up on several writing ‘chores’.  For example, the ‘Writing’ folder on my PC was a mess.  It isn’t any more.  I updated the links and this blog, and my Twitter and Facebook pages (feel free to like or follow, by the way!).

I reviewed several other pieces, including improving the health of my Critters credit.

I caught up on some outstanding correspondence with other writers - I’ve let a few things slip which I feel guilty about.  (Of course, being in contact with friends doesn’t really count as a ‘chore’.)

I did quite a bit of research and detailed planning of the next chapters of my current novel.  I also reviewed and improved some chapters I’ve already written.

I submitted a novel.  I also cleaned up and submitted a very old short, which I’ve been meaning to get around to doing for months.

There was still a lot I didn’t get done, which shows how much I’ve neglected the ‘non-writing writing tasks’.

So, did the experience work? 

Yeah, I could cope with doing this all the time.  I did worry that I might find it boring, just sitting in front of a screen for hours a day.  Because the tasks were varied, and because not all needed the computer, and because I could set my own schedule, it wasn’t a problem.  The main thing I got out of it was time to do outstanding ‘non-writing writing tasks’.  The lesson learned is that I need to devote more time to these, even if I produce less. 

Finally, a word on my schedule.  I’m very much a morning person, and I was usually working by 7.00am (with a cup of coffee by my side).  After a break for breakfast I was back at it again until an early lunch.  Then shorter bursts in the afternoon and evening, with relaxing/chores/food shopping/etc in between.

Friday, 24 August 2012

A couple of P/Reviews

It’s a busy time for me at the moment, with ‘The Well’ now out, and ‘Art Class’ imminent.

Well has its first review – by Carole Ann Moleti.  It’s here.

Art Class has been subject to a preview, by Gianna Bruno.  It’s here.

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Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Well

So, ‘The Well’ is released.  Firstly, thank you to eTreasures Publishing for taking it on.

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‘Well’ is a bit of a departure from my usual horror stories.  It has no supernatural element and no Celtic history.  This change of emphasis, and trying something new, made it great fun to write.

The story is a homage to my literary hero, Richard Laymon.  Laymon has influenced both my style and subject matter.  ‘Well’ has many of his characteristics – an American wilderness setting, a feisty blonde in jeopardy, and a nerdish male lead.  I can only hope some readers will think it a fraction as good as the great man’s work.

Many thanks to all those who helped improve an early draft, particularly those American friends who worked hard to translate the book from British English to American English.  It’s my name on the cover, but ‘The Well’ is very much a team effort.

Here’s the link.  It’s electronic only at the moment, but I’m assured print copies will come in due course:

Finally, here’s the blurb:

When beautiful heiress Connie Straker wakes from a drugged sleep, she has no idea why she is at the bottom of a dry well.

Connie anticipates freedom when her prison floods, but is dismayed to find she remains a captive. If she is going to escape, she must outthink two violent brothers with a grudge against her family, overcome wild animals and find a way through the cage barring her way.

Connie’s best chance of freedom might lie with the college nerd who has had a crush on her for years. But Julian is a creep who Connie despises and she has to decide whether to trust him. Can he overcome his fear of the brothers and help her escape? Or will her captors put a violent end to Julian’s efforts? Will Julian take advantage of her desperation and make Connie’s life-or-death situation even worse?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Unheroic Hero

I find it difficult to be nasty.  I hope my friends and family would agree that I’m not particularly good at it.

So, what has that got to do with writing?

Well, a lot of my novels are set in Britain’s Celtic past; a time when heroes were heroic; a time when charismatic leaders won the day through brute force.

That’s not me.  I’ve tried very hard to be an arrogant bully, but I hope I’ve failed dismally.  That’s why I find it very difficult to write in the Celtic hero’s viewpoint.  Cuchulain, Boudicca, Arthur and the like were doubtless great leaders, but to be successful they must surely have had many of the characteristics I find it so hard to give my characters.

So, how can I write heroic fiction when I struggle to make my characters heroic?

I’ve got around it by concentrating on the more ‘human’ and likeable aspects of personality.  I don’t particularly enjoy writing battle scenes, so I try to keep this ‘off stage’ anyway.  That lets me explore the side of my characters that I want to concentrate on.


For example, Prince Einion in ‘The Doe and the Dragon’ was a warrior prince, but I was able to concentrate on his struggle to overcome his shyness of beautiful women. 

I made Einion’s father, Cunedda, a once-excellent warrior who has mellowed in his old age and is now more interested in politics and seeing his sons inherit, than in wielding a blade.

I found this approach to characterisation much more satisfying than simply portraying Celtic warrior heroes as violent thugs.