Ghosts Deserve Love, Too

The whiteboard got a thorough workout. Having suffered an attack of ‘Oh, crap, I need to get EVERYTHING done‘, I cooled my jets and took some of my own advice.  I laid out everything that I wanted to get done, shortlisted the urgent and important points and then prioritised my list. Whiteboards are good for that.

What did you figure out, Jez?

When I put it all out there and assessed each screaming item individually, I realised some important points:

  1. I have way too much to do.
  2. That isn’t going to change any time soon.
  3. I can do disparate items concurrently.
  4. It’s better to knock off items that have a definite ‘end’ to them.
  5. I’ve been wasting too much time playing Fallout 4.

Point one is shared by every creative mind out there, I’m sure. Better too much than too little, for certain, even though sometimes it would be nice to relax and not have to think, “Oh, I shouldn’t be playing Fallout 4 right now. I could be doing…”

Point two is one of those obvious-yet-profound understandings: I cannot change number one, but I can change my attitude toward it. That is, if I acknowledge, rather than lament, that I cannot get everything done, then rather than being distracted, I can crack on with getting through the list.

Actually, it raises an interesting question: If I know that I cannot achieve everything, then is there really a point to doing anything? My gut says “yes, of course!”, but I’m a little too preoccupied to go through it in an analytical sense.

Anyway, after realising point number two, number three is a consequence. I cannot divide my time equally among all tasks, otherwise no tasks will be completed, but that doesn’t mean I need to work exclusively on a single task. That leads to burning out and creative cramps (come on, we’ve all had those, right?) which means sub-optimal throughput.

So while I wouldn’t want to write three stories concurrently (tried it, wasn’t a pretty outcome), I can, say, write and animate concurrently.

Did you say ‘animate’?

Yes, I did. And that brings me to point number four. While marketing, promoting and general administration is a never ending chore, an animation has a start, a middle and an end. When it’s done, it’s done.

There’s a sense of satisfaction – and disappointment to an extent – when it is completed, a real milestone moment. You actually feel like you’ve done something, like you’ve gone somewhere. Sometimes, when I’m mired in admin duties, it’s easy to feel like I’m filling a bath with a sieve. While it’s essential stuff, I don’t feel like I managed to score a ‘win’.

And right now, I need a win.

So that’s where I’ve decided to focus my efforts for the next bit: while plodding through Adaptation Part 6, I’m going to be giving some love to Paranormology in the form of an animation for Grosvenor Lane Ghost.

I had a squizz at Thomas Amo’s Teaser for his book “Midnight Never Ends” on You Tube and I’m digging the still motions, the voice-over, the music.

Oh, and point number five? Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing Fallout, it’s  downtime and usually it’s only half an hour to an hour at the end of the night, but still. Downtime is good to recharge but not for getting anything done.

It eats into productive time, which, in turn, increases stress that I’m not getting stuff done, and that leads me all the way back to point number one.

Food for thought.

Now that’s all sorted, I’ll be making a plan for the animation, making pictures, music, putting it together and I’ll let you know all about it.Mini Jeztyr Logo

We want you to make it free

You there! Did you know that you already own several of my books?

Open up your favourite e-reader or e-book application and go right ahead. Put in Jeremy Tyrrell into the search bar and go for it. Download and share to your heart’s content.

Wait, are you with Amazon? Well, that might pose a problem.

The Problem

The problem is this: Amazon refuses to allow me to make my books free. I physically cannot, in the little price editor thing that they’ve got, set it to zero or blank or null. In fact, I cannot set it for anything less that 99 cents.

That’s their business model, and, if I wish to distribute with them, I need to follow suit. Fair enough. It’s their platform. Their ones and zeroes. Thing is, my book is my ones and zeroes, and they should be yours, too.

Sure, you can download the .mobi format from the Smashwords site for free, I don’t know how that plays with adding it to your account, or whether you can share it, or if it goes from device to device or what.

And, really, why should you, the reader, pay for something that everyone else gets for free, simply because of the carrier?

The Solution

The solution, I found the other day, is that Amazon will honour competitor’s prices. So, for example, if I were to post one book on iTunes for $5, and on Amazon for $6, Amazon will, wisely, match the $5 price tag (same currency).

The only thing you, as a reader, need to do is inform Amazon of the cheaper price. Above the ‘Author Info’ and below the ‘Product Details’ is a little option to ‘tell us about a lower price’.

To do this, you need to be on the .com website, not the .com.au. It’s not there for some reason. Don’t know, don’t care.

LowerPrice.png

When you click on this, it expands to ask ‘where’ and how much. Bung in a competitor’s page, like the one from Barnes and Noble:

MakeItFree

Here, copy and paste this for Grosvenor Lane Ghost:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grosvenor-lane-ghost-jeremy-tyrrell/1120385725?ean=2940046187342

And put in 0 for the price and shipping, click Submit Feedback and Bob’s your uncle.It says Thank you for your feedback, and the dialog goes away. I think that it is a manual process to validate, but, I assume, once they’ve approved that it is indeed cheaper at Barnes and Noble, they’ll let you have it for free.

Go nuts with Jolimont Street Ghost, and Atlas, Broken. And Adaptation. You can find the links to them in the side bar of this website.

Boom. Thank you. The books are yours.

Please enjoy them with my compliments and gratitude.Mini Jeztyr Logo

 

The Road to Hell

I was sick yesterday. I’m still sick today, but yesterday, man. Fever, nausea, headaches, chills, aches, the works. It was the worst. World ending, full-blown Man-flu. Took some psuedoeffingwhatsit to help with the nose and passed out on the couch with a bunch of tissues as company.

Uh, I thought this was about Hell?

It is. Bear with me. In moments of fever induced delirium, my mind rubs its neurological hands together and, unrestrained by the normal censures of common sense, it goes on a merry little romp.

I remember, once, I watched an obscure tea-party on the back of my eyelids. Another time I thought up a ridiculous rendition of ‘Lasciatami Cantare’. Upon another instance I truly believed I had fallen off my bike and had lost my leg. I was astounded, not to mention utterly relieved, when I woke and found it attached.

Most of the time, not that this happens very often, but often enough to notice a general trend, you see, my brain decides that it’s time to do some spring cleaning. It sorts through all the shreds of memories and sniffs at each one, holding it up to the light, peering closely at it.

Still not seeing the correlation, Jez…

Getting to it. The thing is, this time around, after the usual regrets of uncontrollable failures, it hit upon an old story I had written back in high school. Penfold and Diana, it was called. Probably only about five thousand words, it was a decent story that I had, way back then, thought could do with a bit of love and sprucing and, perhaps, one fine day, publishing.

As usual, my brain lamented that it was stored on a floppy disk somewhere (remember those, kiddies?) and so was most likely lost to the ether. It moved along, following the thread, picking up all the stories that I had written and discarded, intentionally or otherwise.

There was the story about the man who tried to kill his shadow, the story of the adolescent who found love too early, the story of beast within the walls, the girl who lived with her insufferable torment of ‘Holkum Fire’.  And, of course, Darkness from Below, the unprintable novel. Each time my brain picked one up, I had a pang of guilt – was it guilt? – maybe regret, I don’t know, and each time I resolved to re-write the story.

Are you sure you don’t still have a fever?

Maybe. That’s not important. What is important is that, while there are some things that I cannot control, some failures that are too far gone to repair, these stories don’t belong in that category. They can see the light of day. I could trawl through my old hard drives and poke about for those forgotten gems, or just write them again from scratch.

And here comes the part about Hell: If I follow up on my good intentions to give these little guys some love, it will be at the peril of what I’m doing now.

It is not about whether I will resurrect these stories: Easy. I’m going to. No-brainer. Next.

It’s that I cannot drop what I’m doing now – working on the sixth part of Adaptation as well as getting some images in order for a Grosvenor Lane Ghost animation – and get cracking on these little guys. On top of this, I need to maintain this website, perform some administration on the domain and such, not to mention the everyday chores of watching after a little (and increasingly crafty) boy.

If I were to attempt to get everything done, I would not succeed in getting anything done. Men don’t multi-task at the best of times. I need to focus on one thing and only one thing.

In Software Engineering, context-switching is a very real way to burn an engineer into the ground: Swapping between various, unrelated tasks is a helluvalot slower and more error prone than doing one task at a time. The intention is good – to get everything done to make everyone happy – whereas the end result is getting nothing done and making everyone angry.

By the same token, having ten tasks 10% done is equivalent to having nothing deliverable, whereas having one task 100% done, and nine not started means I actually have one thing deliverable (and only nine things left to worry about!).

My good intentions to ‘Get it all done’ are indeed paving the road to Hell. Similar to my previous post, When Too Much is Too Much, aiming for everything will result in hitting nothing.

It’s at times like this that I put the ideas pad down and pick up a whiteboard marker.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to cool my jets and prioritise.Mini Jeztyr Logo

When Too Much is Too Much

Ooh. Oh, man! You’ve copped a whopper of an urge to write. Your Muse has gotten stuck into the coffee and now there’s no shutting up. Ideas are flowing out of your head like water from a hydrant – unrestrained, spilling out all over the place.

What you’ve got here is the opposite to the accursed and often lamented ‘Writer’s Block’. Rather than being starved for ideas, you’ve got too many. So you should be stoked, right?

Take it easy

Yes, be thankful. It could be worse. Hella worse. If you’ve never had a bad case of Writer’s Block, then just trust me on that.

It’s a fine thing, having ideas oozing out of your pores but wait! Wait!

Actually, don’t wait: be mindful that once the oil well has finished spewing its contents about, you’ll be back to the ol’ pump and distill routine. The stuff that’s coming out now, though, is unrestrained ethereal gold so don’t let it get away!

Write whatever you’ve got down. Or record it on your telephone’s dictation app. Or video yourself. Email to yourself. Do whatever it takes so that you can look at afterwards.

After? After?

Yes, after. You know, when you’re writing your book.

Jez, you’re kidding, right? I want to use these ideas now! I gotta capitalise on this opportunity!

Patience

Don’t make them into a book, please. Make little points or scribbles or sentences. You can make them into a book later. Trust me on this.

The problem, and it is a problem, is multi-faceted:

  • All the ideas that come at once don’t belong together – do more with less
  • Ideas that sound wonderful now might sound absolutely awful in the cold light of analysis (Been there, done that… too many times to count)
  • A good idea can become great with a little cultivating, otherwise it could be wasted
  • Chase all the ideas at once, and you’ll likely follow one and neglect the rest
  • Writing a book takes time and patience, not just a bunch of ideas.

It would be a tremendous mistake if you stifle your own creativity for the sake of trying to put it all into a structure, plot it out, etc.

Sure, you might have a moment of crystal clarity where you know exactly what you’re going to write and why. Great! That hardly ever happens, so run with that but, when you come up for air a few days later, the other awesome ideas have gone. They never were, and never will be again.

Here’s the thing: Ideas are like wild rabbits. They come out of their burrows at any time, and pop back down just as fast. You can seek them out, traveling down after into their warrens. You can attempt to coax them from their holes. There are many techniques that can help you do this. Once you have these ideas, though, you need to be ready to catch them!

And ‘catching’ an idea can be as simple as a little ideas book. Jot enough information to remind you of what the idea is, release it and grab the next one. Catch, tag and release. Catch. Tag. And Release!

If you tag it right, you don’t need to go hunting after it again. After you’ve exhausted your quarry, job done, relax, and know that you’ve got a pool of ideas sitting there, waiting for you to pick them up when you are ready. Oh, how the tables have turned!

Then, when you’re stuck, have a look at your little book of tags (or emails, recordings, whatever you’ve used) and scan through your list of critters to interrogate. And you know what? Those little idea-critters sure can multiply when left to themselves!Mini Jeztyr Logo

 

The Struggle of the Artist – Who cares?

It’s easy being an independent author.

You get to write what you want to write. The subject matter is up to you. You don’t have a big bad corporation leaning over your shoulder, shaking its head saying, “No, no, no. That won’t do. You need to have more werewolves. Vampires are so 2014. This won’t sell.”

Who cares? It’s your book.

Pfft! Who cares…?

If you want to kill off your main character, go right ahead! If you’re stuck for a plot point, deus ex machina is a viable option. Who cares? It’s your book.

Pricing and distribution is fine, too. With facilities like Smashwords and Lulu, you can push out your book at pretty much any price that suits you to pretty much any distributor. Do you care? After all, it’s your book.

There are no deadlines except for those you impose upon yourself and, hey, if you’re out by a week or a year, who really cares? It’s your book.

Tell you what, it’s easy being an independent author.

No, really, who cares?

Who cares? Who cares? The audience cares. They care a lot.

If you are writing the book for yourself, then go right ahead and do whatever. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation and spelling. Ignore typos and editing. Ignore those tics, those cliches, those repetitions. Chuck everything into one great big sodding sentence, no breaks, and be done with it.

Writing for others means obeying conventions, like grammar and spelling, and it means putting a lot effort into editing, refining, sweeping, checking, double-checking, proofing, making sure the damn thing is what it’s supposed to be.

Sure, it’s your book, but it’s written for someone else and, when they’ve bought it and read it, it’s their book, too. That’s why they care.

Deadlines become real: If you say you’re going to have a book out by December 2016, then that’s what the audience expects. Sure, the audience can’t sue you or fire you if you don’t deliver, but they can get miffed if you keep pushing the date of release back.

Being an Indie means many things, but one of the main things is that the thick layer of abstraction between you and the audience is not there. It means you have to be the big, bad corporation. You have to be the one whipping yourself to get things done. You have to exercise self-discipline, take any issues on the chin, handle complaints and emails.

All marketing falls on your shoulders. You don’t get to have the big, bad corp telling you what’s currently trending, nor do you have banner ads, and YouTube videos, or sponsorship, or endorsements, or reviews, or Oprah.

All you have is you. And even if everyone else in the world doesn’t care, you should care.

Geez, it’s hard being an independent author.Mini Jeztyr Logo