You know, I think I’m going to make a new rule. When it comes to releasing titles, I’m going to deliberately hold off past Christmas. With the development-o-meter hitting a full scale deflection, the obligatory seasonal parties, obligations and preparations, and the viruses that hover about until you’re just on the edge of desperation before striking you down, there’s not a lot of time left for everything else that falls under the category of ‘not immediate’.
So it got to yesterday – at least I think it was yesterday – and I was asked, “Hey Jez, don’t you have a book coming out?”
Oh, crud. Right. That. When was that again? Between all the competing voices nagging and braying and screaming and screeching, there was a meek little squeak calling, “Jez, Jez. Don’t forget about me.”
Well I didn’t really forget as much as neglect. Sorry, little guy. It’s a bit pathetic, but here’s your launch. Ahem:
Hey, y’all. Portsmouth Avenue Ghost, Paranormology Part 5 is out on Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Google Play. And a bunch of other, independent distributors. I hope you enjoy it.
The deadline to get Portsmouth Avenue Ghost up on pre-release was the 21st of November. I hit that deadline. Great. Yay me. Well, I didn’t hit it as much as I flopped messily against it, exhausted, frustrated and strung-out. With everything else that’s going on, the point of hitting the ‘upload’ button on Smashwords felt like an afterthought.
Who made that deadline, anyway? What’s the point of it? Why bother putting myself through the wringer just to hit some arbitrary date scrawled on a whiteboard? Doesn’t that turn writing into a chore?
Let me answer those one by one: I made the deadline. I made a date for the first draft. Then, when I reached that, I made a date for the second, then the third and also for the cover. Finally I made the deadline for the pre-release.
The point is that by making dates and tracking my progress, I force my focus onto getting that task done. I then prioritise writing over, say, playing video games or watching television. The priority game also comes into play when I’ve got other creative tasks on the menu, like making You Tube videos or drawing or painting or crafting.
Sounds good, right? Keeping myself on track, avoiding the pitfalls of procrastination and distraction. It’s more than that, though. There’s this thing called Reality.
Most decisions are beyond me. It’s often not a matter of ‘I can do this, or I can do that’, rather it’s ‘I must do this and I must do that’. See the difference?
The real question is why do I threaten my health and sanity just to reach some uninteresting date imposed by no one other than myself? It’s quite simple, really. I have commitments. I have to work, no questions. I have to take care of my family, no questions. I have to deal with emergencies and chores and errands and last-minute things. There’s no choice about that.
If I want anything of my own to be accomplished, then I have to afford it a status of ‘has to be done’, otherwise it can’t compete against the rest.
And, yes, it does turn writing into a chore. If I was writing for myself or for a friend, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m writing for a bunch of people I’ve never even met. I’m putting my name to a book that can be read by some guy on the other side of the world and he expects that what he gets passes a basic standard, and, more than that, expects it to be entertaining or informative. He won’t be as forgiving as a friend or relative. My credibility is directly linked to his enjoyment of it.
You’re damn right it’s a chore. It’s bloody hard work!
Imagine you’re making a batch of home-brew beer. There’s the cleaning and the sterilising, and the washing and the cooking, checking up on it, then the bottling and capping and storing it all under the house and checking again at intervals. It’s hard work, for sure, and one could easily pop down to the store and buy a slab, but that’s not the point, is it?
Deep down we want to create something. We want to put ourselves into what we do, express ourselves creatively, make something from nothing. That’s being human. Not all creative endeavours benefit others, of course, but those that do must be taken seriously.
A sketch on a napkin or a ditty in one’s head remain just as they are until they get turned into something ‘real’, in that they get taken seriously. The ditty gets engineered into a song. The sketch gets worked into a painting. Time and effort, lots of both, must be spent making something from nothing, creating things that never existed before we applied what God gifted us. Otherwise those little bursts of creativity stay on that scrunched up napkin and eventually get forgotten about.
Believe me, it’s all too easy to pretend that it doesn’t matter. You can think, “Ah, I’ll miss it by a day. Big deal.” It is a big deal. I’ve missed many deadlines and, each time, I kidded myself that there was nothing more that could have been done.
Each time there was something I could have done. Without exception, every time I looked back, with honest eyes, and understood that I had left things too late, wasted time at the beginning of my project, spent too much effort doing trivial tasks. I could have done more and I could have done it better. Criticising myself retrospectively (another useful tool) means that, now, I reach my deadlines.
Deadlines are a front-line weapon against Entropy. They are an essential tool to make stuff real. Use them honestly and they’ll keep you honest.
You know when your eyes are burning and your fingers and cramped and up come up for a gulp of air and realise, ‘Heck, almost there!’
The fifth episode of Paranormology is only a hop, skip and a jump away from getting published. Allow me a couple of seconds to enjoy the moment.
Back to it. I’ve highlighted the issues and suggested corrections, now I’ve got to pick up the pieces of paper – literally – and update the electronic copy.
Why ‘literally’? Well, funny story:
As you can see from the pic, there’s a whopping bulldog clip what holds all my sheets together. This system works really well because it keeps the pages in order when I take it from my bag, or put it on the table, or drop it on the ground. Where the system fails is when I unclip it, then let the pages slide off the desk and across the floor.
Let this be a lesson – when you print out your manuscript, add page numbering. It’s fast and it means that, if the pages get screwed up because of one’s clumsiness, it’s trivial to put them back into order.
As it was, I spent a good ten minutes flicking through, sorting and shuffling and rearranging.
You’ll also notice that I used a yellow highlighter rather than my favourite red pen. Reason is that I couldn’t find Old Red anywhere. The highlighter + black pen combination isn’t that great, in that I need to do two marks rather than one, and the black pen had a tendency to get smeared on the marker.
The end result is good. I can scan a page quickly and spot what needs to be updated, so that’s not a problem, and if I can’t have a red pen, I’ll settle for this, albeit grudgingly.
What comes next?
Updating the electronic copy with the corrections. It’s laborious, it’s boring, but it has to be done. A few cups of coffee should help.
After this, or during – if I need a break from words – comes the cover. I’ve got the sky how I want it, and I’ve removed a few ‘modern’ artefacts from the house and surrounds. Now I need to get the colours right, perhaps add a some environmental cues, and decide upon a font for the title.
And then, somewhere along the way, I have to start a blurb – *shudder*. For such a small patch of writing it is the most agonising to write: Summarise without being vague. Give clues without giving anything away. Create interest without using cliches. And do it all in a neat and tidy space of five sentences. Blegh.
So I might be near the end, but, really, there is much still to be done.
I did it. As I rode home, I went over and over the possible situations: A hostile occupant. A disinterested one. Getting told to sod off. Getting an over-eager interest. How would it turn out? How would it all end?
I circled the block, checked it for other houses that might be more suitable (there weren’t), parked the bike, cricked my neck, cricked my fingers, admonished myself for procrastinating, and took off my helmet. “Hi, my name is Jeremy Tyrrell… Hmm. G’day, you don’t know me… nah. Hi, there. This might sound strange… Nup. Yo, firstly, I’m not here to sell you anything… Oh, boy.”
Clearly, pre-planning wasn’t working, so I opted to just wing it. Somehow, that felt better, or made more sense. I don’t know.
The front door was just over there. Only a few steps away. Through the gate, along the path, up the steps and across the portico, then ding-dong! Show time.
Easy as. Only the gate wouldn’t open. A latch? A bolt? Hasp and staple? No. A wire was tightly wrapped around the gate securing it to the brickwork.
No go, eh bro? Not so.
I am reminded by the saying, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
Is that even legal?
Good question. I had to do some searching around to get a handle on photography laws as it pertains to private properties and public places. Turns out, it’s actually quite legal.
In a nutshell, unless I’m a Peeping Tom (kinda tough to be one at 5:30 on a main road), or being a nuisance, taking a photograph of a building or scene that is visible from a public area is fine. There are exclusions, such as if one is photographing a commercial concern and goes on to make proceeds out of what is essentially not theirs, or if one has been told to push off, or if there are minors involved.
If one is on private property, however, permission needs to be obtained from the owner or relevant body.
In short, if you’re on the street, it’s fair game.
The result? Ehhh, not so fast. A got a photograph, but it’s not a cover just yet, not without removing things like telephone wires, street numbers, garbage bins, antennae and all of that.
I like this house. Handsome, two floors, a lovely garden, and large enough to sport several rooms. The sky above looks pretty turbulent, too. just need to make it darker, gloomier.
There’s a fair way to go yet. Right now, I’m getting a tea and going to bed.
It’s official: the next in Paranormology sees our protagonist accompany the Professor to Exeter, following up on a potential lead involving a wealthy widow and a mysterious medium. I finished the second draft just now – coffee down, have a stretch, crack of the knuckles and back to it, Jez.
Naturally there’s the drama between the Professor and the Gypsy – neither appreciates the other’s presence. The protagonist is caught in the middle, being young and idealistic.
There’s the theme of the optimism of youth, and it helps in a few spots, yet the premise is related to controlling one’s emotions. Sound vague? Of course. I’m not going to spell out the premise, that’s the book’s job.
I don’t think I’ll be doing the whole KDP thing again on this one. Firstly, it wouldn’t be fair to those who have the rest of the Paranormology series on Kobo, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc. Secondly, I really like Smashwords as a publisher! They’ve got the author as their focus, not profits, and they make it easy to do just about anything. I’m cool with that.
As for the cover, I’ve got a particular house in mind that I pass by every day on the way home from work. It’s over in Essendon and I’m thinking I might want to ask for permission from the home owner first before I stand outside like a creepy guy and take happy-snaps of the house… Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.
Don’t know how I’m going to approach it, but. “Hey, hi. You don’t know me and, well, I don’t know you, but I was wondering if I could take pictures of your house…”
I moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org over the last few weeks. The transition wasn’t all that hairy, just took a while. What with all the other duties I must perform, I hardly had two minutes to rub together. There was the dump of the content, the files and settings, and the domain names and setting up the server.
In the end, though, it’s done. It means I’m paying my way but I’ll have more freedom over how the page looks and what plugins I get to use. On that note, if you are having trouble viewing jeztyr.com or jtyrrell.com, please drop me a line and let me know.
Also, I’ve tried my best to maintain the followers, but if you’ve dropped off somehow, I’ll do my best to sort it out.
Cool, Jez, so what’s cracking?
Admin time is over. Now it’s back to getting the books out and other fun stuff. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the next release is “Portsmouth Avenue Ghost”, number five in the Paranormology series. I’ve finished the first draft and I’m looking to take to it with a razor.
After this, I’m tossing up whether to do a sequel to Tedrick Gritswell, or dust off some of my older projects and breathe some life into them
Speaking of Tedrick, my incarceration with Amazon is almost over, so I’m going to ditch the exclusivity crap and release Tedrick on Smashwords – and subsequently all the other book vendors.
One thing at a time, eh?
Portsmouth is looking to be released early to mid November. I’ll settle on an official date as soon as I can.
I’ve been quiet since releasing Part 6, I know, and I’m sorry. Don’t think I’m sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, though. Not me, that’s not how I roll.
Sure, I had a couple of days of down-time to recuperate, get my head away from the checklists and shout-outs and double-checking and distribution that comes with a new book. That was fun.
But after a bit the brain gets itchy, the fingers get twitchy and it’s time to start writing again. I picked up on the next in the Paranormology Series, tentatively titled “Portsmouth Avenue Ghost” and got cracking at it. The funny part is that the first draft is almost done.
How is that funny?
It’s funny because I had the overwhelming notion to stop. Jam my foot hard on the brake. Deploy the parachute. Why? Because it was going too fast. Now that’s something you don’t hear everyday, a writer lamenting that the book is coming along too quickly, but it’ true. I wasn’t unhappy with the story, in fact I’m quite chuffed.
So why slow down? Quality, man, quality. The skeleton is there, with good fleshy bits hanging off it and some hair and skin – I’ll fill in the rest later – but stories have a need to sit and ferment, stew in their own juices as it were. If you push it too fast, you can miss out on developing subtle features like a character’s growth or a location’s description, on the bits that make the story that much more interesting. I’ve done it before – neglected to rest the story that is – and I have been unhappy with the outcome.
Not this time. This time I have forced made notes to myself in the text, parked it for future reference so that the next time I read over it, it will be like reading the story for the first time. Or, if you rather, like reading the story as someone else.
You might then think that I actually have been twiddling my thumbs. After all, I’m not writing, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m midway through another book, on a very different tangent altogether.
Running under a kind of crop-rotation theory, I figured that too much working the Paranormology angle will exhaust and weaken it. I’ve only just finished up with Sci-Fi, hence that needs a rest. So I’m going for the ‘Weird Fiction’ angle, in a similar vein to The Bullet and Atlas, Broken.
Hot Dog! What’s it about?
I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. Not yet, anyway, not until I’ve got the first draft done and I’m happy with it. I can drop a few hints, though.
First, it’s a detective novel. Think first person, film noir. “Gee. Thanks, Jez. That narrows it down some.”
Secondly, it has a distinct nautical or aquatic theme. There’s murder and mystery and good old fashioned skulduggery.
Thirdly, the characters are relatable, but certainly not ordinary.
Too much of a teaser? Sorry. Like Portsmouth, I don’t want to rush this one. Once the first draft is complete, I’ll let it rest a bit. In that time, I’ll be getting the front cover done. My plan is to use my Wacom to make the sketches and watercolouring and shading and whatnot. Come to think of it, I’m really excited about that. More on that when it comes, I guess.
In the meantime, I’m afraid you’ll just have to bear with me as I plod along. First draft has been scheduled for completion by March 30th and so far, it’s on track. Well, it would be if I wasn’t spending time writing blog posts.