5 Steps to Creating that Post!

creatingthatpostOne primary question to ask yourself before you start blogging is this: Why do you want to write a blog and what are you going to write about?

It’s deep in the psyche, this need to communicate and express yourself but bloggers blog for a number of reasons. One is that we have a particular interest or passion that we just have to talk about. It might be a sporting interest or a hobby that we love. It could be a love of poetry or books. If you spend a lot of your free time cycling for instance you might want to indulge your love of this hobby by writing about it and discussing cycling issues or sharing information and tips about cycles. I subscribe to a lot of blogs about my favourite sport, F1 racing, as well as blogs about writing and my favourite movie directors for instance.

Another reason for blogging is to promote a business. There are many photographer blogs on the web, some are from amateurs who want others to see and comment on their work, some are by professionals who are actively promoting themselves and their business.

Authors are frequent bloggers, perhaps because publishing has been turned on it’s head by the internet and the digital revolution. No longer must we writers wait for the publisher to find us, we can get our work out there straight away and build up an internet presence which in turn benefits our self published works. Whether self publishing is a good thing I’m not so sure. I feel that personally I’ve rushed a little too quickly down the self publishing route but the experience has been good for me. I originally thought I had a pretty good manuscript but self publishing showed me very quickly that this wasn’t the case and I had to do a lot of work to update my grammatical errors and sort out problems with page breaks and other bits and pieces. The process I’ve gone through at createspace has been a big learning curve but as a result my manuscript has been well and truly re-hashed and edited. I personally love paperback books but it’s the Kindle version and it’s user friendly instant download facility that, in the case of my book, is much more popular.

Blogging for me is primarily to promote my work but I do love writing and I do love writing my little blog. One good thing about blogging is that it gets the creative juices flowing. It gets you thinking, what can I write about? What can I write about next time? So far the ideas have kept on coming and I’ve got six or seven draft blogs in the pipeline although I have to say two have them have been there so long I think they may be heading for the trash file shortly. Many people ask me how do I do it, how do I come up with a new post every week? Well, good job I don’t have to write a daily blog, I’d be pretty pushed to do that I can tell you! Anyway what I do is this, I keep an eye and an ear out for a blog idea all the time. I read a lot and one of my great loves is trolling round for second hand books so if I’m stuck I’ll write about books or writers. I’ve already done posts about James Hilton and Dylan Thomas, two of my favourite writers, and I recently wrote a second post about my finds in second hand bookshops. If ever I see something on TV that might inspire a blog post, I jot it down in my notebook or even sometimes on my mobile. In my car, which believe it or not, is a prime creative space for me, I have a small hand held tape recorder and I can be seen frequently jabbering into it as I drive to and from work.

Recently I switched on the television and an old James Bond movie was showing. Now, I’ve read all of Ian Fleming’s Bond books and seen all the films so that looked to me to be a prime target for a blog. A little research on the internet will tell you that a lot of popular posts will have a number in the title, things like ’10 different ways to promote your blog’ or ’20 ways to get more blog traffic.’ Ok I thought, how about ‘8 Things you didn’t know about James Bond!

Now, once you get an idea like that, a factual idea, you need to do a little research. I quickly jotted down the few things I knew about Bond and then researched the rest on the internet. I put together my facts and figures, made sure it all made sense, added a little graphic and there’s the next blog post ready. Of course, if you write something, it stands to reason you will want someone to read it so make sure you promote your posts on Google+, Twitter and Facebook and anywhere else you can think of.  Have a look at the infographic below:

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It’s quite easy to make your own infographic, just as I did on http://www.canva.com

Enjoyed this post? Then why not click the links at the top of the page and find out more about my book!

Why Finding your voice as a writer is so important

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I start Floating In Space talking about the weekend as ‘one long high energy cassette’ and looking back I wonder if today’s younger generation even know what a high energy cassette is, or even an ordinary cassette for that matter? Still, the important thing is the idea, the idea that the hero of my book, Stuart, is profoundly fed up of his nine to five life and spends a lot of his time waiting for the weekend to begin so that once again he can replay the high energy cassette and enjoy life.

Like a lot of first novels, Floating In Space is semi-autobiographical and based very loosely on some of my own experiences. Many years ago I left school and started work for an insurance company and very soon the whole nine to five existence became deadly dull and I longed to be doing something more interesting. I packed in my Insurance job and spent a few months in Spain but I quickly became bored there. I do love Saturday nights out but when every night becomes a Saturday night, the whole thing loses its attraction. Back in the UK I started work as a bus conductor just as a quick way of earning money and fully intending to get a ‘proper’ job soon but I found I enjoyed my new life working different shifts and meeting new and different people as I tripped up and down the roads of Manchester.

How did I come to write Floating In Space? Well, when I was younger I used to write a lot of things, mainly action, adventure and espionage stories. The only inspiration I had was film and television and my own imagination. Sometimes your own imagination is enough but for writing to have a real impact and depth it needs to come from within and that’s where an author finds his true voice. James Bond for instance, is a great character but he didn’t spring wholly from Ian Fleming’s imagination. Fleming, like the fictional Bond, was a Commander in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and his knowledge of secret intelligence helped him create the world of 007. When Fleming writes about Bond’s love of food and the good things in life, he is writing about himself. It was Fleming who smoked the bespoke cigarettes which he speaks of in the Bond books. It was Fleming who ate scrambled eggs for breakfast and wore ‘Sea Island’ cotton shirts and these small things he passed onto his fictional character, James Bond.

Finding your own voice is the key to finding your way as an author and one day I sat down and decided it was time to write about the world around me rather than what I was watching on television so I wrote an essay about an evening in the Busmen’s works club. It was an essay about beer and cigarettes, about playing pool and snooker and the banter of young men across the polished bar of the club and over the worn card tables. I wrote more and more about what I saw around me and gradually realised that I could spin all this material together into a novel. I wrote the book in the first person and began to develop a colloquial talkative style which I have used ever since. I never successfully put the various parts together into a complete narrative until a few years ago on a wet rainy holiday in France when I finally wove everything into the final book that you can buy today from amazon.

Go on, give it a read!

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Floating In Space: Last day to download free on Kindle!

Yes, you can download ‘Floating In Space’ free for your Kindle until 22nd January.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Floating-space-novel-vanished-Manchester-ebook/dp/B00KCS19LO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402836758&sr=1-1&keywords=floating+in+space

It’s a novel following the adventures of a young man in Manchester in 1977. No mobile phones, no Internet and a pint of bitter cost only 25p. Here’s me talking about it in Manchester;

 

Floating In Space -two days left to download free!

Yes, you can download ‘Floating In Space’ free for your Kindle until 22nd January.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Floating-space-novel-vanished-Manchester-ebook/dp/B00KCS19LO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402836758&sr=1-1&keywords=floating+in+space

It’s a novel following the adventures of a young man in Manchester in 1977. No mobile phones, no Internet and a pint of bitter cost only 25p. Here’s me talking about it in Manchester;

 

Three days left to get Floating In Space Free!

Yes, I know I’m harping on about it but ‘Floating In Space’ is still free to download until the 22nd January!

Not sure if I’m not I’ve obsessed with animoto at the moment but here’s another promo video . .

 

 

More about ‘Floating In Space’

Had a few cock ups on the blog scheduling front lately which is why my last blog about Jason King didn’t go out on que but it’s available now, just click here!

The reason behind this blog, apart from indulging my love of writing is really to promote my self published book ‘Floating In Space’. It’s available from www.amazon.co.uk where you’ll find a really good review of the book if you’re sort of wavering whether to buy or not. If you’re expecting some kind person to buy  you a kindle for Christmas then why not try the kindle edition!

Anyway, here’s some more video of me talking about the book:

 

paperback writer!

It’s been a long wait but you can finally buy the Floating In Space paperback version from Amazon! Just click on the picture below to take you to literary heaven! (OK, that’s a little over the top but, what the heck?)

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Writers Block and Promotional Videos

Every writer gets there eventually; the point where a blank piece of paper stares back at you and you can’t think of anything to put on it. I’ve always tried to write, even when nothing will come to mind, and it’s then I open my diary and write about me and things that I can chronicle and maybe even turn into a poem or a blog. I guess that’s why so many of my blogs are about my personal past, I’ll be writing about myself and something comes to me, a little light goes on and I start thinking, ‘hey, this could be a good blog!’

Diaries are a good way to keep you writing, because something is always happening in your life, even something ever so minor. ‘Watched that Old Bond film last night, Goldfinger. Had a glass of whisky and scoffed half a large fruit and nut bar.’ Not a great diary entry but so what, you are writing again and as more and more words start to come, you are writing and creating more and more. You’ve beaten the blank page and produced something. Not only that, diaries are great to look back on. I tend to open one and look back and see what I did on this day on a past year. 14th September, 1996? Wonder what happened then? Wonder what I was doing? Who was I spending my time with?

Just lately I’ve been waiting for the latest proof version of my book with my latest revisions and the curse of the blank page has hit me. So, I decided to step back from writing and make a few videos about Manchester and maybe link them up with a half hearted idea about talking to camera about events that my book was based on. All the locations in the book, well the pubs anyway, are real life locations, real pubs and in my video I take a look back at some of those places.

The video started well but it took a while for me and my brother to get the hang of what we were doing. He was filming and I was talking. We shot some footage then retired to the pub to check it out. One of the pubs we went to was the Salisbury, a pub I used to frequent years ago and a pub that looks today, pretty much just how it used to look years ago. Even inside the pub; it had clearly had a refurb, but it had been done thoughtfully and the pub with its polished wooden bar and flagged stone floors looked pretty similar to how it used to look. The only thing was that back in the late seventies and early eighties when I used to drink there, my friends and I used to sit in a room at the far end of the pub which nowadays looks as though it’s a private function room, so I couldn’t just sit back in my old seat and remember the times gone by.

Anyway, we reviewed our video, made a few suggestions and shot some more takes. Much better ones. Then we decided to wander down to some other locations. We shot some more video then retired to the pub for another review. We were on our way to the Briton’s Protection when we called into the Rains pub which has a really nice beer garden backing onto the canal. After a few pints I had some ideas in my head for some more filming so my brother cranked up the camera. ‘It’s not working,’ he said so I told him to press the record button again then went off into what I thought was a pretty interesting monologue. Later we realised that the camera was recording when my brother thought it wasn’t so when he pressed the record button the second time it went into pause mode. A great monolgue lost for prosperity! Anyway, at least we had a great afternoon out. As for the video, well, take a look for yourself:

Self Publishing and more Shameless Self Promotion!

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Thought I’d write a quick update about Floating In Space. I’ve been a bit slow in producing the paperback version but a few weeks ago I thought I’d finally sorted it out. I’d got a good PDF file so all I needed to do was upload that to createspace.com, order a proof copy and the book should be ready in a few weeks if not sooner! The thing is, that’s not how it actually worked out.

Writing a book is a pretty big thing but I’m not sure I’d say it was a hard or even a difficult task. Of course, when it’s something you like doing, something that gives you pleasure, hard or difficult hardly comes into it, but editing and proofreading, that’s a different matter.

Spelling mistakes are an issue though most of them can be caught by spellchecker but even then there are some things that slip through. Sometimes spellchecker will okay a word even though it’s wrong, like a correct word but used in the wrong context for instance. And grammar, well there’s a sticky subject that I find really hard work, I thought I knew about grammar until I came to edit my book. No wonder people make a living by proof reading, it’s difficult and involves going over stuff you have written time and time again.  I’ve been DSC_0293through my book so many times I’ve developed a sort of word blindness, I seem to be skimming over things and reading from memory rather than the printed word. I think I’ve got the definitive version, order a proof copy then spot a mistake in print that I couldn’t see in the word or PDF version! In my latest version I thought the font was too big so I resized it, tidied up the chapter headings and some other things I’d spotted, sorted out the PDF file and thought; great, finally sorted it. When I looked through the book on line I noticed various big gaps in the text and on further examination there were various section breaks in the word version that required eliminating! Anyway, I think I’m nearly there!

The Kindle version has been updated with spelling mistakes amended, duplicated words removed, and a small index added to help you understand 1970s England! It’s also got a much nicer cover than the print version, even though it was created using the same cover photo. What’s really odd is that the Kindle worked better with a word file rather than a PDF, while the print version works better with the PDF.

Any of you self published authors had silimar issues? let me know. I’ll feel much better if I know I’m not the only one!