My new novel, As Fire is to Gold, is now available on amazon.com

Very exciting!

I’ve just published my novel, As Fire is to Gold [Chronicles of the Ilaroi, Book 1] on amazon.com – both as a paperback and an ebook.

If you would like to purchase a copy, either:

Even better, if you do get a copy, it would help me enormously if you put a review up on Amazon once you’ve read it!

Book 2, All the Leaves Have Fallen, which concludes the Chronicles of the Ilaroi, is being finalised for publication at the moment and will be available on Amazon within the next few weeks.

I hope you enjoy it.

Getting Started 2: I don’t have the talent to write a fantasy novel

In my last blog, I discussed one of the biggest obstacles to writing that novel you always wanted to write — finding [or allocating] the time to do it.

The second obstacle to Getting Started on Your Fantasy Novel that I want to deal with is self-doubt!

I’m not good enough to do that or I really want to write a fantasy novel but I just don’t have the talent to do it. Do these thoughts sound familiar?

NewsFlash: We all have them – or have had them!

Here’s just one of thousands of examples, from Paul Tremblay, whose book, A Head Full of Ghosts, won the 2015 This Is Horror Novel of the Year:

“I struggle with self-doubt every time I sit down to write. Its severity fluctuates, but it’s always there, and some level of it should be there, frankly. I think it’s healthy. I’d be more worried about myself if I thought that when I sat down manna was about to pour out of my fingers (eww… and that would be messy, wouldn’t it?). Every writer is different but doubt, at times, drives me, and makes me want to get better.”

https://litreactor.com/columns/dealing-with-self-doubt-tips-from-7-popular-authors

Interesting! Paul, an accomplished author, still has doubts. More than that, rather than finding them a hindrance, Paul seems to embrace them. He uses them. They help him strive to keep on improving.

But what’s the worst that could happen anyway? You write that novel, you give it your best shot, and no one likes it.

If that’s the worst that could happen, you will still have achieved one very important thing. You will have scratched that itch. You will have written your very own fantasy novel!

Hopefully, if that is what happens, you won’t then just give up. Hopefully, you will learn from that first experience and sit down and write another one — only better this time.

“Agatha Christie completed her first manuscript at the age of 22. She submitted to many publishers only to receive a stream of rejections. She sought the advice of a family friend writer Eden Philpots who introduced her to his own literary agent who rejected the manuscript but suggested she write a second novel. Agatha Christie’s first novel was never published. Her second novel was also repeatedly rejected before being finally published on the agreement that she change the ending. Agatha Christie went on to have a prolific career writing 72 novels and 15 short-story collections.”

Source: wildmindcreative.com

But what about the potential positive outcomes?

Putting aside the prospect that what you write might be a masterpiece and you might become as rich as J. K. Rowling [Or even richer. Hey, if you’re going to dream then dream big. After all, it’s your dream!], what if you’re simply really happy with the result?

You spend months reviewing and polishing the completed work and either find a traditional publisher or decide to go down the indie publishing path. Your book gets printed and your first published copy arrives in the mail.

As someone who has been there, I can tell you — that is a great feeling! The sense of accomplishment when you get to that point is pretty intense.

“The moment I held my book in my hands—my actual work, in physical form, in my hands, was indescribable. (Is that a word? Oh well.) I had to pick up my books at the bookstore, and the bookseller handed me a copy and I swear I felt tears well up in my eyes. All of your hard work, abstract concepts, words on a page—now made concrete. It’s amazing.

Publish your book. Whether you feel it needs more work or it isn’t long enough or it’s not good enough, publish it anyway. Even if you only have author’s copies. You can always tweak it later. But the feeling of accomplishing it is beyond compare.” 

Alison Moxley, quora.com

I asked the question above: What’s the worst that could happen? You write that novel, you give it your best shot, and no one likes it.

That’s not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is that you have this dream, this urge, call it what you will, to write a fantasy novel, or any other genre for that matter, and you never give it a go!

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

J. K. Rowling

So, get to it. Start writing. Take the risk. Follow your dream. The rewards will be worth it.

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Click on this link if you haven’t already signed up for my Mailing List but would like to do so. I will then drop you an email to let you know whenever I post a new blog.

Click on this link if you want to access a list of all of my Writing Tips posts in one place.

Click here if you want to go to my Home Page. I will be publishing a new fantasy series in April 2019 and you can find more information about that on my website. You can also download a FREE PDF of the first two chapters right now without having to wait for the books to be published.

When is the Lord of the Rings TV series released on Amazon? Who’s in the cast? What’s it going to be about?

If you haven’t heard about Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings series [actually, more accurately, a series set sometime before the events which take place in Lord of the Rings] then this recent RadioTimes post is a useful starting place to find out the what, when and where of it.

Rotten Tomatoes also have an interesting article on the latest news about this series.

Getting Started on Writing that Fantasy Story

Does this sound at all familiar? You’ve got this great idea for a fantasy story that’s been bubbling away in your head for some time now, but you just can’t seem to get started on putting the words down on paper. All you have is a blank page.

Something more important always seems to come up, just when you think you might get started.

Or perhaps you just don’t know where to start!

Well, don’t get stressed. We’ve all been there. Getting started is your first big hurdle. Get over this and you’ll be off and running!

So today let’s talk about one the most common hurdles:‘I’d love to do it but I simply don’t have the time.’

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OBSTACLE # 1 – TIME

Scheduling Writing Time

This is one of the biggest obstacles to writing your story.

There always seems to be something that absolutely needs to be done before you start writing. Needs is an interesting word, though, isn’t it?

Generally speaking, there are:

  • tasks you must do as you go about your daily life,
  • tasks that are important and which, therefore, have a high priority,
  • tasks which are important but which don’t have to be done straight away, and
  • tasks which are optional. 

Life, of course, won’t come to an end if the optional tasks don’t get done.

If you’re committed to being a writer, and you want to become an author, then your writing has to be up there amongst the important tasks. 

There will certainly be lots of other important tasks, like paying the bills, eating, sleeping, looking after and/or spending time with family or friends, and many others. But for an inspiring author, writing needs to be one of your important tasks.

Not the highest one. Let’s not lose perspective. Eating, sleeping, and paying the bills are just a few that will be right near, if not at, the top of the list — and rightly so. But writing has to become one of your important tasks, nonetheless. Otherwise, it will keep getting bumped and you’ll keep thinking: ‘I must get started on that novel/novella/short story one day!’

So, if that is true, why not schedule some time each week that you will dedicate to writing? Perhaps a few hours in the morning, on a number of specific days, or late at night, when the house is finally quiet. Whatever suits you best, taking into account likely interruptions or distractions as well as what time of the day you are generally at your most creative.

And then, once you’ve worked out where in the schedule it best fits, stick to that schedule as closely as you can! Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep to the schedule 100% of the time, but be determined.

Make failing to stick to your schedule be the exception rather than the rule.

Don’t set your goals too high at first. Perhaps start with just two mornings a week. Set easy goals, achieve them, and then build on that success. Most of us had to crawl before we could walk.

It might take a bit of trial and error. Perhaps mornings won’t turn out to be the best time after all. Or the end of the day doesn’t work for you after all. You’re just too tired then. Listen to your biological clock. It’s probably the best determinant of when you will be most productive.

Be prepared to review and re-think your schedule until you find what works best for you. Perhaps a more flexible schedule, not locked into set times but focusing on the amount of time you will find for writing over, say, a week, will be the best way for you.

Ultimately, though, it will come down to commitment.

As J. K. Rowling has said, you need to “be ruthless about protecting writing days”.

If you want to be a writer, then the one thing you simply must invest is time.

The bad news is “time flies”.

The good news is “you’re the pilot”!

Time Allocation – The Bigger Picture

That’s fine down at the micro level, but I remember how it was for me. For many years, I had dreamed of writing a novel. But that was all it was — a dream [sound familiar?]. I just couldn’t see how to turn it into a reality. I had a busy and demanding job. I didn’t know where to start. I was scared that I didn’t have the talent to match my ambition, and so on.

Then my boss sent me on a management development course. Only, this turned out to be one that really helped turn me around.

One of the ideas put to me on that course was about life planning.

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As a senior manager, I knew how to develop business plans and project plans. They were some of the key tools you used to help you ensure things that needed to be done in the workplace actually got done.

So what about things I wanted to achieve in my personal life? Why wouldn’t a Life Plan, covering what I would like to achieve in my personal life over, say, the next five years, help me at a personal level just as much.

That seemed both a reasonable and a novel approach to me.

And so I drafted one. And lo and behold, when I thought through what my goals and aspirations were, writing a fantasy novel was right up there on my personal ‘To Do’ list. So I put that down. And, just like I would with a Business Plan, I then worked out what resources and skills I would need to achieve that. I set myself some goals and milestones, and, very importantly, I determined to focus on achieving that dream which had eluded me for so long.

Well, I wrote that novel within two years of going on that course!

At the end of the day, recognising and prioritising what was important to me turned out to be the single biggest thing I needed to do. Once I did that, setting aside time at the more micro-level became fairly easy.

Of course, there were still some other hurdles to jump over, but more about those in my next article.

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Click on this link if you haven’t already signed up for my Mailing List but would like to do so. I will then drop you an email to let you know whenever I post a new blog.

Click on this link if you want to access a list of all of my Writing Tips posts in one place.

Click here if you want to go to my Home Page. I will be publishing a new fantasy series in April 2019 and you can find more information about that on my website. You can also download a FREE PDF of the first two chapters right now without having to wait for the books to be published.

Writing Tips for Fantasy [and other] Authors

Hello, and welcome to my Writing Tips for Fantasy [and other] Authors. This is the first in a series of blogs I will be posting focusing on helping those who want to turn their desire to put down their stories on paper into a reality.

My hope is that these posts will help others find their way along the exciting path that takes one from being a writer to being an author. As with any worthy goal, the journey there can, at times, seem an arduous one, beset with doubts, pitfalls and innumerable other barriers. Just getting started is probably one of the biggest hurdles of all.

I’ll deal with all of these obstacles, and much more besides, in the posts to follow. The first bit of good news is that none of the obstacles are insurmountable, however daunting they may at first seem. The second bit of good news is that the feeling of achievement and satisfaction once you get there is, I can guarantee you, well worth the effort.

Hopefully, just the fact that you are reading this post shows that you have begun to take your first steps along that path. Well done! Keep going.

Before I go any further, I should start off by making it clear that I don’t lay claim to being any more of an expert in these matters than anyone else. For my undergraduate degree, I majored in English, Latin and Classics [the classical world, that is, not the works of Jane Austen and co]. I’ve written and published a high fantasy novel. Before I retired, I had a long career in the public sector which required me to produce lengthy, high-quality, written work on an ongoing basis. But I know that many others have similar if not vastly more impressive credentials.

The thing is, in my experience, some of the best advive I’ve ever received has been suggestions that I’d already heard, or had seen before, but which I hadn’t previously embraced. It seems that, for many, if not most of us, it is not what is said, but how and when, that determines how well we absorb it. We often have to hear it at just the right time, or in just the right way, to ‘get it’.

Perhaps, it’s more the case that when we are absorbing a very large amount of information or advice, our subconscious files some of the overflow away in a safe place until something happens to bring it back to the forefront of our mind, or until we are ready to pay heed to it or give it proper consideration.

One thing is certain. We are all different, and the kind of advice which resonates with some people will differ from what resonates with others. Hopefully, what I have to say will hit the right note for you.

Having put all those qualifications on the table up front, I hope you find my posts in some way useful. If you do, or if you know someone else who you think might benefit from them, please feel free to share them.

These tips will be based on my thoughts, my experience, and my perspective on the great volume of information and advice that is out there for writers, or would-be writers, to consider and absorb. There is a lot to chose from, and that alone can be a barrier. Where do you start?

I’ll try to help you with that. To do so, I’ll follow a very old bit of wisdom. I’ll start at the beginning and work my way through to the end — topic by topic.

Enjoy the journey. I hope this helps you get to where you want to be. To quote one of my favourite authors [JRR Tolkien]:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

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Click on this link if you haven’t already signed up for my Mailing List but would like to do so. I will then drop you an email to let you know whenever I post a new blog.

Click on this link if you want to access a list of all of my Writing Tips posts in one place.

Click here if you want to go to my Home Page. I will be publishing a new fantasy series in April 2019 and you can find more information about that on my website. You can also download a FREE PDF of the first two chapters right now without having to wait for the books to be published.

Tolkien biopic due out soon!

MoviesWant to see the trailer for the new Tolkien biopic? It’s available now.

According to tor.com:

“The life of J.R.R. Tolkien was as tumultuous as his books: orphaned at young age, marked by World War I, fighting to woo the woman he loved despite the disapproval of his guardians, and finally unspooling an entire fantasy world and multiple languages while teaching at Oxford. Now this story will get a star-studded cinematic treatment in a new biopic, Tolkien, with Nicholas Hoult as the author himself, Lily Collins as Tolkien’s ladylove (and inspiration for Lúthien Tinúviel) Edith Bratt, and Colm Meaney as the young Tolkien’s guardian and parish priest, Father Francis Morgan.”