Potter’s month in writing. April 2012

April 30, 2012

As spring makes itself known and the next WordWatchers meeting looms, we come to that time in the month when I reflect on what I achieved within the literary world.

One of the creative highlights for me came at the beginning of the month when I discovered AudioBoo via another WordWatchers member. It galvanised me to do a podcast. I used the fabulous Blue Yeti microphone I’d bought for this purpose and recorded to Audacity on my PC. I edited the mistakes and the occasional sigh or deep breath, had a great time hunting for a royalty free jingle and uploaded the finished content to AudioBoo for all to hear. The podcast was of the Prologue from Chasing Innocence. You can check it out here. I plan on doing at least a chapter a month.

I made some postcards too

Last month (March) I started a series of blog posts on Creative Crow about how to indie publish a book, the second appeared this month. This resulted in the Literary Agency I’d worked with in copy and proof editing Chasing Innocence, to suggest we work together producing a How to guide for indie publishers. This seemed a great idea and the book is tentatively titled ‘From Clueless to Published – an Indie guide to writing a good book, publishing in digital and paperback and getting it into the hands of the reading nation’. It’ll be out sometime towards the back of 2013. It also resulted in this post titled the Indie Writers Illusion, which addresses the age old question of how to write a good book. I list a whole bunch of ideas.

Chasing Innocence got some great reviews this month, which led me to write this post on those moments that make you feel all the sweat and tears are worth it.

So we finally come to that tricksy matter of the next book. I’ll be expanding on this in greater detail in my next blog later this week. In writing book #2 I wanted to really challenge myself, not only in writing a first person narrative, but to create and explore a character and situation totally alien to me, while making it engrossing for the reader. The net effect has been very slow progress. There have been so many variables to consider. New characters to feel natural writing about. Skills and world events that ripple through the narrative. Understanding the pacing and immediacy required in first person while keeping the scope of the story wide for the type of plot I have in mind. And keeping the reader engrossed. Did I mention that already? If you asked me how it’s been, I’d say: Hard. One of my biggest problems has been that I now know the quality required of a finished book. So much so I’ve busily been layering in that quality as I write, which I believe has to be tempered on the first draft. In order to stop myself doing the endless cross-editing I got an iPad this month. I LOVE my iPad. I downloaded and now use IA Writer to create the first draft of a chapter, tapping away directly onto the screen. Only when the chapter is finished do I port it out to OpenOffice for editing. This has seen a marked increase in productivity and two extra chapters, totalling 4,000 very polished words. The first draft of this book will be roughly equal to the quality I eventually got for CI on draft three, I believe.

Finally, Amazon ran another free promotion this month for Chasing Innocence on the Kindle. In two days it went to #10 in the overall free charts and #4 in Thriller Fiction, totalling 2500 downloads including four hundred in the US, fifty in Germany and one in France. The result was a week in the top #100 paid charts where it spent half that time in the top #50 of Thriller Fiction. It’s slowly falling now as you need multiple points of attack to sustain a run in the charts. The hope is it will settle slightly higher than where it had been. Prior to the promotion I was selling one to three books daily. Currently it is twenty daily. It’d be nice to settle around the five a day mark. Hopefully reputation, Amazon reviews and brilliant blogs like Confession of a Reader, will keep it selling.

See you next month.

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Suddenly bereft

April 25, 2012

John Hoggard (ex-Rocket Scientist)

Something very odd happened last night – I accidentally finished my current novel. That’s one I’m writing, not one I’m reading. I’m not sure how you’d accidentally finish reading a novel. Although you may be wondering how you accidentally finish a novel. Well, to be honest, so am I.

I was writing away, having just started a new chapter, and then suddenly a paragraph turned up that coalesced the essence of the story and a little voice in my head said “You should probably stop there.”

So I have, stopped that is, for the moment at least. I’m not sure it really is the end, but I need to work out why the little voice thinks it is. If it is the end then there’s some even more editing than I had originally planned since quite a lot of my plot remains unwritten (hinted at but not resolved!).

One of my fellow Wordwatchers, Julian said after critiquing the first 90K “You seem to be 2/3rds the way through your word count but only halfway through your plot”. These, it would seem, were rather prophetic words.

Feeling rather empty at the moment, I have lived with these characters for quite some time and suddenly not being involved in their most intimate of moments is rather disconcerting. Perhaps they’re living their lives without me?

I have an idea of how to resolve all of this, and a severe pruning in the edit will help enormously. In the meantime I’m going to have a few days rest (possibly, the urge to write is still there!) and then write out where I thought the story should end, just in case it turns out I need it.

When I know more, I shall share it with you.


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This March in Writing

April 8, 2012

Potter looking purposeful

Each month at Wordwatchers we gather at someone’s house. We sit down and chat and then we start with the confessional. This is one of my favourite parts of the monthly meet. It is where we tell everyone in the group how much writing we have done, or what we have achieved during the month against what we said we would. I love the confessional because it is one of the few times in my life that I’m routinely out geeked. There are some serious writing geeks at Wordwatchers and it is wonderful company to share.

Typically when it comes around to me I’ve been so hooked into what everyone else has been saying, my carefully rehearsed list of achievements through the month go out the window. I’ll remember about three things I actually did. I’ll go off on tangents, vaguely mention a word count and where I am with the work in-progress, and then off I go again, talking about some random concept I’m currently excited about.

To try and establish some kind of order I’ve decided to use the Wordwatchers blog as a platform to briefly detail what I did each month, so when I’m sat in someone’s house and all eyes turn to me, I can calmly reel off the key detail from this blog. Well not this one. We already had our April meeting. I’m writing this now just to get my hand in. Some great things happened in March 2012 and I’d like to tell you about them.

We start with Handyman – my current novel. I’m a third of the way through the first draft. I dreamed up the concept two years ago and the character has steadily evolved as I edited and published Chasing Innocence. I’m introducing some very exciting elements into Handyman, not just to the story but to how it plays in the reader’s mind. The trouble is, it has been four years since I actually started a book and I have been struggling to get going. I wrote about the struggle in two blogs during march; In the Absence of Daydreams and That Eureka Moment. It was in embracing both that I had a real epiphany that galvanised the characterisation of Handyman in my mind. As March came to a close I was for the first time closing the laptop and feeling I could write more. I spent most of the month struggling with two chapters, the first of which will unlikely appear in the book, but needed to be written as it explained the characters to me. The other chapter launches the rest of the book. It has been tough because it’s less than 2,000 words but has to justify the beginning of Marcus’ transition from ordinary to the extraordinary. Important is the belief in the reader’s mind that he is capable and they want him to take the journey. Both chapters are as finished as they can be in the first draft. The exciting bit is what comes next.

Additionally I wrote two blogs for the Wordwatchers site. One discussed this lonely business of writing and the need for collaboration. The other explained how to use URL’s to promote your website’s content in search engines.

Then we move onto the small matter of promoting Chasing Innocence. Getting your creatively imagined and thrilling novel onto Amazon is only part of the journey for an indie author. Getting it into the hands of readers is another adventure completely. I wrote posts for my johnpotter.info blog detailing the separate journey for publishing the paperback and Kindle editions, and more importantly the lessons I have learned.

In trying to promote Chasing Innocence I have entered it into three competitions. The two key ones for me are the Writer’s Digest Self Published awards 2012 and the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012.

Finally, I have started and will continue through April, to proof read my good friend Donald Stilwell’s new manuscript. This is a huge honour. I loved his first book and am hoping the second will be even better.

That’s about it. See you next month.


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On reflection…

April 4, 2012

On Reflection

Due to circumstances beyond my control I actually missed last night’s WW meeting.  It’s a genuinely sad moment.  The Wordwatchers meetings are the only time I feel like “John the Writer” – three precious hours a month where I really do feel like a writer, not not just a bloke sat at a keyboard typing in stuff that may or may not ever be read. Chris was very proficient with the minutes – though he teasingly changed my texted in confessional from 18,000 words this month to just 1,800 (to see if I was paying attention). Oh how I laughed… not…

Amazing that this was Wordwatchers 133rd meeting, the first of our 12th year and would have been my own personal anniversary too, 5 years a member of possibly the greatest collection of writers and friends that the world (mostly) doesn’t know about yet. (The beacon of hope for the rest of us is of course the brilliant Charlotte Betts and of course our very own (now Alumni member) Katherine Webb). Both these amazing ladies took the traditional route to publishing, but we’re also hoping for great things from our Indie published John Potter and there’s lots of good stuff round the corner for Abbie too, who at least has an agent and has the most amazing dedication to her art and appears to be able to produce a novel faster than I’ve known some people draw up a shopping list.  So Abbie already has a couple of novels prepped and waiting to go.

In fact, everybody seems to be pretty much cracking on now and reading the flurry of post meeting emails, I clearly missed out on a fantastically energized meeting.

Me, I’ll be really pleased when Endless Possibilities is finished and that’s mainly because of the encouragement from within Wordwatchers who read (and critiqued) the first 100K and insisted that I finish just so they can find out what happens to the main characters.  And if I’m honest, that’s pretty much all the incentive I really need.

(This blog originally started as a shorter musing on Wordwatchers Facebook page and it was Abbie’s response to it their that lead to its expansion and subsequent title – thanks Abbie – inspiring as ever)

Addendum: The author makes no apology for the rather gushing terms used to describe his fellow Wordwatchers in this blog because it’s all true and well deserved – so there!

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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