Category Archives: On Writing

Indie Writing – about outlining in reverse

Most Indie writers will be aware of the two extremes of writing technique: pantsting and outlining. Well, I’m kind of a hybrid. Most of the time I write as a ‘pantster’, meaning that I allow my sub-conscious to direct the flow of the story rather than planning it out ahead of time. The trouble is, after a certain point, my stories become rather complex and convoluted, so I do have to think ahead, at least a little.

Nevertheless, my ‘thinking ahead’ still doesn’t constitute an outline. For me, outlining is something that happens after the story is told, not before. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past three days. I’ve been going through Vokhtah, line by line, noting down all the bits and pieces that make up the story. These include the plot, of course, but also things like timelines, motivation/backstory and the introduction of Vokhtan vocabulary.

All in all, my reverse outlining takes up 19 pages of notations. This is just one of them:

As you can see, its data in the raw, and tomorrow I’ll have to massage it into some sort of order that goes beyond the simple chronology of the story. But that’s for tomorrow. For now, I need a coffee and a walk around the garden with the ‘kids’.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Achievements, failures and RESOLUTIONS!

In a fond farewell to 2017 I thought I’d list my achievements:

I worked out how to use CreateSpace [after years of thinking it was too hard] and created print versions of 4/5 of my sci-fi novels, including all four covers for:

  • Miira
  • The Godsend
  • Nabatea
  • The Vintage Egg

I used the CreateSpace experience to write, produce the cover and print a non-fiction book called How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace.

Then I got all ambitious and decided to do one for more complicated books. I am enormously proud to annouce that How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace was uploaded to the CreateSpace website at 9:50pm December 31, 2017. Yep, I just scraped it in. The Non-Fiction book is not available yet as I want to road-test it a bit first, but at least it’s up there. 🙂

As for the failures, most were small – like trying to replace the bulb in my rangehood and failing miserably – and some were just plain enfuriating. I mean, I’m a grown woman, right? I eat well, stay fairly healthy, I even do a bit of physical exercise out in the garden…so why can’t I lose weight? I don’t want to lose a lot, just 5 or 6 kilos…grrrrr.

Anyway, let’s not talk about the past. 2017 is DONE. It is over, finished, consigned to the trash heap of history. 2018 is going to be a lot better and for me it’s already started…Ta Dah

You are looking at the ebook version of How To Print Your Novel with CreateSpace!

Remember that poll I ran a short while ago? The one where I asked you which screenshots were easier to see? Well the results were overwhelmingly in favour of the coloured screenshots, but that left me with a terrible problem as I knew the print version would be seriously expensive [around about $25 USD for the longer how-to].

And then I stumbled across a new-ish Kindle app called the Kindle Textbook Creator. Could this be the answer to my problems?

Before I continue I have to send Chris McMullin a huge thank you. Chris is a publishing guru who writes textbooks and wonderful, clear blog posts about all sorts of technical things. One of his posts became my ‘bible’ as I researched the Textbook Creator:

Optimizing Amazon’s Free Kindle Textbook Creator Publishing Tool

If any of you have thought about writing say, a cookbook, but were put off by the tech, I strongly recommend that you read Chris’ post and get to work.

Anyway, I took Chris’ advice, optimised a copy of How to Print Your Novel for the Kindle [Fire only] and went to work. I finished turning it into an e-textbook just about 2 hours ago and uploaded it straight to KDP. It was a breeze!

The Textbook Creator uses PDF files just like CreateSpace, and basically makes each PDF ‘page’ one page for the Kindle. But the thing that really makes it standout is the clean, efficient interface that makes everything intuitive and easy. Amazon definitely got it right with this one.

So there we go, two days into 2018 and I have an e-textbook to my name. 🙂

And finally to those resolutions. First up, I’m going to convert the How to Print Non-Fiction book into an e-textbook too. Then I’m going to take the Offspring’s advice and re-visit the cookbook I started a few years back. But mostly, I’m going to focus on the Vokhtah saga. Because I’m turning 65 in 10 days and I can feel my creative clock ticking. I’m a slow writer, and there are still a lot of stories I want to tell.

Oh…and that diet thing? I’m determined to win that battle too!

So, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you manage to keep any of them? Should I just shut up now? -giggles-

Happy 2018 my friends,

Meeks


Self-Publishing with IngramSpark…or not

IngramSpark, probably the biggest print-on-demand publisher, has a facility right here in Melbourne [Australia].

“Yay! I can get copies of my books printed locally to save a huge amount on postage!”

That was me yesterday. Today I have steam coming out of my ears because the only way I can use IngramSpark is as a Sole Trader – and that involves getting an ABN. Apparently, IngramSpark does not deal with lowly self-publishers who can’t pretend to be a business.

For those not familiar with the term, ABN stands for Australian Business Number. I used to have one, about 15 years ago when I ran a micro business teaching computer skills one-on-one. In fact, apparently I still have one lurking somewhere, inactive and unusable, but still in the ‘system’. Somewhere.

I could hunt down my old ABN, but I don’t even know where to start and, bureaucracy being what it is, the process could take hours or days out of my life. That’s a lot of effort to go to just for the privilege of printing a few copies of my book here in Australia, especially when the only benefit to me is a saving on postage [Ingram’s printing costs are a lot higher than CreateSpace but postage from the US is the real killer].

Oh, and did I mention that you have to pay IngramSpark $53 AUD for the privilege of using their distribution services, even if you don’t actually intend to use them to distribute your books? Yup, that’s part of the setup process.

So if you’re an Aussie self-publisher, my advice is to give IngramSpark a miss. Unless you already have an active ABN…

-sound of teeth grinding-

Does anyone out there know of a reasonable PoD company here in Melbourne? Maybe a home-grown one that doesn’t charge the earth?

Meeks


Say hello to Max Legend!

In case there was any doubt, I’m in love with a new composer, and his name is Max Legend! Raw, driving, powerful yet lyric, ML’s music is not gentle. It doesn’t yearn, it stirs…no, it doesn’t just stir, it kicks arse. And that is the exact feel I’ve been looking for all summer.

Many writers use music to set the mood for their storytelling, but for me, music is not an optional extra, it’s a necessity. And not just any music. It has to be the right kind of music for the story I want to tell. Without it, I write words, but they’re not connected to my heart. Does that make any sense?

Yes? No? Maybe? This is why I dislike writing about the writing process. Every writer is different so something that makes sense to one person may make no sense at all to another. For me, music acts like a portal that carries me straight past the logic centres of my brain to the weird, messy, parts.

But the right music doesn’t just take me to my ‘creative side’. It also helps to translate all those messy, nebulous thoughts and feelings into a linear progression of words that end up telling a story.

No two people will ever experience a story the same way, and no two people will ever respond to a piece of music the same way. But sometimes, if I get it right, they may share a feeling, for a little while. To me, that’s what real communication is all about.

So…I’ve finally found my way into the next story. I won’t publish excerpts on the blog because I’ve learned not to make anything public until its well and truly done. But I will post the odd bit of music, and for the forseeable future it will all be from the brilliant mind of Max Legend. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

p.s. ML is another composer who writes for trailers, games and movies.

 


Science fiction on parade!

meeks-books-small

I’ve never published a print book version of any of my books, but this wonderful graphic by Chris Graham is the next best thing. He just ‘whipped it up’ and sent it to me in an email. I have no idea how he put it together, but I love it. Thank you, Chris!

And while I’m at it, I’d like to thank everyone who left reviews on Amazon for Innerscape. You may not know this, but if you add up all the pages in all the episodes of Innerscape, they total about 1014 pages. I say ‘about’ because Amazon only displays page counts for episodes 2-5, so I had to guesstimate the page number for episode 1. Slight inaccuracies aside, that makes the story of Innerscape about 200 pages longer than George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’ which comes in at 819 pages. So to all those brave souls who have read all the way through to the end…THANK YOU!

Now, I’m a polite girl, and polite girls don’t crow, but here are the reviews for Episode 1, including the 1 star by Austin Myers. 😀

David Prosser
Can Innerscape really live up to it’s reputation, can Miira live on without her bodily ills and find some happiness. Given an introduction is like watching world building at it’s best. You’re there and can see it but don’t have to cope with all the technical side.
Ms Flory has created characters real enough to evoke emotion in the reader. You’ll like, love and possibly hate too but you won’t want to stop reading.
I was given an advance copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Stephanie Briggs
Personal hopes and private fears leap from this writer’s imagination and grab the reader’s attention. Once she piques your interest, the conviction to know more will fuel your desire to read the next Episode. A. C. Flory does for science fiction what sunlight does for soil. She incubates an idea until it flourishes and feeds the deep hunger in us all.

Chris James
Anyone who’s read this author’s first book, Vokhtah, will know that she can deliver when it comes to entertainment. Innerscape part 1 doesn’t disappoint. The story tackles one of the most thought-provoking ideas in science fiction: what if, as your health failed and you approached death, you could effectively download your mind to a virtual reality and live on in the freedom of youth for as long as science could keep your decaying body alive?
We follow the dying Miira as she enters Innerscape and goes through her “orientation” into this virtual paradise. But right from the beginning, Innerscape shows one side to its Residents, while hiding real-world complications behind its pristine veneer of professionalism.
I finished this first part with my curiosity peeked and wanting to know what will happen next. It is a terrific introduction to what promises to be an outstanding series of books.

Candy
I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 1 of Innerscape and just downloaded Episode 2! The alternating perspectives, the vivid characters, and the intriguing vision of the future all work together to create a compelling narrative. Miira and Dr. Wu are sympathetic protagonists and the prospect of futuristic corporate villainy in the next couple of episodes seems likely. A.C. Flory has succeeded in creating a coherent, reasonable, and scary future, where the virtual and real exist side-by-side.

Candace Williams
This is the first episode of a smart, well written sci-fi series with a fascinating premise. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s really going on in both worlds, Kenneth’s real world and Miira’s utopian VR, Innerscape. There’s plenty to think about – a must in sci-fi, imo – within a storyline that captivates. An excellent read!

Dawn
Well. This was a delightful surprise. I’m quite traditional in my thinking- I always say to people I’m more of a crafter than an artist; and I think that shows in my reading. Much as I like to be fully absorbed in a novel, I find that most fantasy is just too fantastic for me to suspend disbelief. Same often goes for science fiction. For example – TV wise – I’m more of a Battlestar Galactica / Caprica girl than Farscape. My favourite authors writing for adults in this genre are Margaret Attwood and Iain Banks.
Having completed Episode One of Innerscape, however I think I might be adding AC Flory to my list.
Really convincing new technology and logic behind it; borderline dystopian; well realised characters; interesting premise throughout. Additionally it’s set in a future just sufficiently distant as to make all these things feel as though they may be about to occur, yet the lead character (a woman – hurrah) is incredibly relevant; especially reading this at the tail end of 2016. Oh – and unusually well written; no typos, no gaps or character name swaps, no odd leaps or discrepancies.
I bought this book, and am looking forward very much to buying all the remaining ones in the series.

EllaDee
A great start, introducing engaging characters who invite you to champion, fall in love with or hate them.

Austin Myers
There may have been a story of some sort but it was taking far too long to get to it.
Note to author: The first few pages / chapter has to grab the reader and pull them into the story. This book failed to do anything of the sort. This was disjointed and boring. I hope your next effort is better.

Penny I Howe
From page one, I could not put the book down. It was simply wonderful. Gripping & excitingly realistic. I’m getting ready to order the next episode (book ) right now. I would highly recommend this book. Excellent and entertaining. Exactly the way I like my Sci-fi!

And thank you to everyone who comes to my blog as well. You’ve made me a ‘very happy, Meeka’.

-hugs-

Meeks

 


#Haiku help needed – update 24/1/2016

Thank you to all those who left comments and suggestions. Your help gave me a really valuable insight into haiku, at least in the English form, and why it’s so hard to write.

For those interested, my little insight has to do with the sound of the haiku when spoken out loud. You see, the very first time I came across the haiku form it was at uni. where I was studying Japanese. And of course, it was the famous frog haiku by Basho:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

To this day I love the sound of those three lines and seventeen syllables flow. They flow, almost like music, and I believe the reason is that in Japanese, each syllable is given its full value. In English, however, the written word is often very different to the spoken sound because we truncate syllables. Just think of that oh-so-Aussie ‘g’day’. ‘Good day’ has two syllables, but how many are there in ‘gday’?

Sadly, this insight merely highlights the fact that I don’t have the skills to make music with the imagery I see in my head. 😦

I may return to the ideas and feel of this little ‘pome’ of mine one day, but for now I’ll stick to what I know best…prose.

Heartfelt thanks to all,

Meeks

 

Okay. I do not write poetry, but I’ve always loved the old, traditional Haiku of Japan, so when I needed a title for part 8 of Innerscape, this sort-of Haiku popped into my head:

Condolences like ash,
Softly falling,
The finality of gone

I like it, and it really fits the story, but as a haiku it’s a fail. The total syllables are 17, but their placement is all wrong: 6-4-7 instead of 5-7-5.

My question is this – as I’m writing in English, can I get away with it?

Thanks,

Meeks


Libraries as publishers?

The Windsor Public Library [in Canada] may be the first [?] library to create paperbacks for Indies, but I suspect it won’t be the last. And I’ll be at the head of the queue when my local library gets a POD machine!

Wondering what I’m talking about? Follow the link below to read about a very forward thinking library that is doing print-on-demand [POD] for it’s members:

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/with-10699-books-printed-windsor-librarys-self-publishing-machine-is-a-hit

And before anyone mentions the name ‘Createspace’, I know, we can all create POD versions of our books on Amazon. But…

  • while Createspace may be very reasonably priced, the postage to Australia is not,
  • and nothing beats the convenience of going to your local library and having a real person solve problems for you, in real time.

I don’t know when POD machines will come to libraries in Australia, but I for one can’t wait. Just think, if I managed to publish one book per year, I’d have Christmas presents solved for life. 😉

cheers

Meeks

 


Wattpad mark 2

Apologies for those who tried to have a look at Part 1 of Innerscape and found the link didn’t quite work. 😦 Since that post I’ve discovered that the only way to create a working link in Wattpad is to use their pre-made links to Twitter and/or Facebook.

The link below really does work this time, but you’ll notice that it refers to twitter somewhere in the middle. Don’t worry about that weirdness. Clicking the URL link will take you to the right place.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/38111538-innerscape-part-1-induction?utm_source=web&utm_medium=twitter4&utm_content=share_myworks_details&ref_id=18201582

I suppose there is some deep and meaningful reason for the way Wattpad functions, but I’m not particularly impressed at the moment. It took me a couple of hours of fruitless searching to work out how to do this one, simple thing. :/

Good night all,

Meeks


Cures for the not-so-common Blah

I thought I’d be happy when I finished writing Innerscape. Hell, I thought I’d be ecstatic!

– No more getting up at dawn to squeeze in a few hours of writing before the working day began.

– No more dreaming of storylines – and yes, most mornings I wake feeling as if I’ve spent the whole night writing because that’s what my brain has been doing while the rest of me slept.

– No more hitting myself over the head when I can’t get the plot to work.

– No more worrying about not being able to write/finish – and yes, that is the counterpoint to this. 😦

In short, I really believed that once I wrote ‘The End’, I’d leap into real life again with gusto. Not so. In one of those feats of human contrariness, I’m facing the coming weeks of enforced rest* with trepidation. In fact, I feel blah.

For those unaware of the finer points of language, ‘blah’ is a technical term for not knowing what to do with oneself, and feeling miserable as a result. You must remember this :

Okay, the relevance of that video clip is a bit of stretch, but ‘you must remember’ how it felt when you were a teen, and the end of year exams were suddenly over? After all that furious studying there was suddenly – nothing. Part of you still felt as if you had things to do, urgent, important things, but the energy to do them had no outlet.

Well, I’m feeling much the same now, except that this misery is a kind of double-blah because unlike exams, I actually do enjoy writing.

I know the blah will fade as the habit fades, but the paradox is that I’m equally scared of that eventuality – I know what writer’s block feels like, and that misery is even worse than this one. So in an attempt to keep my hand in – without going back to Innerscape – I’ve decided to re-read the very first story I ever wrote. This mammoth, unfinished masterpiece -cough- took up two years of my life, and I still have a four drawer filing cabinet crammed full of research material.

A decade on, I’d like to think I’ll be pleasantly surprised but …I have a six-pack of tissues close at hand just in case. Remember, this is the story I wrote straight after my last technical manual. Yes, I thought you’d understand.

I fully expect to spend the next few days either crying or laughing hysterically. When I emerge, however, I’ll need some more coping mechanisms, so please share your cures for the blah in comments!

Thanks in advance,

Meeks

*I think it was Stephen King who recommended throwing your newly finished manuscript into a drawer for six months before starting to edit. The idea is that time and distance from the story will allow you to see the manuscript with fresh eyes – i.e. see what you actually wrote instead of what you think you wrote. This technique does work, I know it does, but it’s hellishly hard to switch off from a story and characters that have consumed your life for months on end.

 

 


You’ll never see toast the same way again!

Okay, people, I know two posts about writing in as many days is probably a bit much, but this one is so funny!

Here’s a teensy weensy sample talking about the concept of ‘the Chosen One’, and how much of a cliche it is. Author S.E. Zbasnik, muses on what might happen if the all powerful ‘they’ picked the wrong chosen one. They might find that:

‘The true savior of the Lumtkins was actually a sentient piece of bread, but no one thought to armor up toast.’

Read the full article here. I’m going back to laugh some more. 😀

Meeks


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