Apologies for not posting on here for such a long time. The original premise behind this blog was to detail the experiences of a writer choosing to go down the self-publishing path rather than looking for an agent. Little was I to know that many a writer were already blogging about the exact same topic, and were doing so in a more effective manner than I could ever manage. So over the last few months I have been racking my brains, trying to figure out what the purpose of this blog should be.

I certainly don't want it to just become a store front for my writing. I'd like to share my experiences with indie publishing, my peculiar passions and my thoughts on the uncertain political climate we find ourselves in.

So you can expect the following over the next few months:

- Stories about how my experiments with writing genre fiction under a pseudonym works out.

- A best of list for all things artistic and cultural for the year 2011.

- A discussion about the road block I have hit with a certain project.

If there's anything you'd like me to discuss, please let me know!


Interview with David Majlak

One of the great things about self-publishing as an indie author is the bonds you develop with fellow writers. The following is the second of many interviews that will be conducted with my esteemed colleagues. 

Tell us about the books you currently have available.

I have several books available. My first was My Suicide Note: A Sockdolager From Me To America. I chose the word Sockdolager because I saw it as the word of the day, and it means a concise argument or a closing, well done and convincing argument. It's a discussion with the reader about over 30 topics of problems that government has the ability to solve but does not, and is quite contradictory about it. For example, if the FDA is concerned with public health and safety, and recalls beef the second they find out about e.coli, or they shut down plants for health violations, why then have they not banned cigarettes? That shows how much they really care about taking their job seriously, and the same goes for Congress and government in general. I even provide a few of my own solutions at the bottom in case a wealthy reader happens to find my book and takes things into their own hands.

My second book, Building Your Own Computer - No Frills, No Filler, Just Answers. was written because there are tons of people out there confused over computer hardware and the evolution they take every 2 years. I write from experience, as i've put together several of my own from scratch, and the other books on the market give you 300 pages of nonsense and even still use computer jargon when people are still confused when we're talking about memory. I cut it down to 50 pages, include pictures, spell everything out for the reader, and talk about what will directly affect them as consumers so that they know what they want, what they need, and what they might want in the future from their computers. It gives them purchasing power, they get more for their money, and I even include a small troubleshooting section at the bottom with information most books just won't give you without experience. You DON'T want to find out what standoffs are the hard way.

My third book, Meditations For My Children, was written for teenagers and parents to gauge the maturity development of children to make sure that everything in developing in line with school studies and body growth. Just because one does well in school and isn't on drugs doesn't make them mature. The world is a cruel place, and we need to make sure kids enter college with a standard of ethics and morality, and have the ability to ask themselves tough questions and things they wouldn't normally ask themselves. We know we aren't adults until we stop answering questions with "I dunno" right? I also include a bunch of uplifting ideas in there to help manage sadness and depression, because we all know kids can do some crazy things these days.

My fourth book, Quick Exercise For Everybody - Your Body Is What You Make It was written because I was tired of seeing my friends and other people reach for exercise programs that just take your money and make you sweat a little. I used to exercise myself, and I scoured the internet for information that delivered. I forget who used the quote, but "If you learn only methods, you are bound to use those methods. If you learn principles, you can devise your own methods." and that's what my book does. It gives you the principle of developing muscle, increasing your metabolism, and creating your own diet so that you're not stuck to using any one thing that might not work for you. The purpose is to teach you what you need to know, so that you can apply it and adapt it to your own lifestyle, because what works for me might not work for you. We need to get it right the first time, and it'll teach you what you need to know.

My fifth book, The Anti-Bible, is a collection of photo's about God's contradictory nature. It's very funny, and provides a laugh for anyone. I knew a book like this wasn't on the market, and I thought people would enjoy it, and so I put it together. Here's one of the good ones: GOD IS OMNIPRESENT. ADAM AND EVE HIDE SUCCESSFULLY IN GARDEN. Haha.

Tell us about the process of writing your first book/short story? How difficult did you find it?

The process I use to write my literature is that I allow it to just come to me. You can't just sit down and slap your fingers on the keys and allow anything meaningful to develop. You get tired, you have mental stress at various stages of the week, and you just really have to be in the mood. I find that if I force myself to write, my literature turns to garbage in no time fast. Usually I don't need more than two or three days off, and the motivation comes all by itself, so I don't find the writing difficult at all. I'm creative all by myself, I just need the motivation and excitement to continue the process.

Please share your favourite paragraph from each of your works.

I would share a favorite paragraph from each of my books, but the fact of the matter is that I can't share just a paragraph. There's so much information and detail going on that you need an entire chapter. All of my books have about 20% worth of free preview though, so that's space saved on here.

What are you currently working on?

I'm in the middle of writing My Journal As A New Father, detailing my experience of being an expecting father, and will include the first three months of my baby's life. Some of us just aren't dedicated, and for those of us who are, I'm here to let them know what it's really about.

I'm also in the middle of writing RPG Baby! Level Up Your Child! Which is a child development book full of quoted research and information solely for the purpose of giving your child the best leg up they can get. It includes information such as giving the baby the highest IQ and development possible, what research has shown, things to look out for, and what you can do to basically make every one of your kids a mature smarty pants.

I'm also in the middle of my first fiction novel. It's coming along quite nicely, I haven't chosen a name for it yet, but it's part of a series of 4 other books that are just for the sake of giving the reader the backstory! That's right. The 6th book will be the actual beginning of my series' story, and beyond. That's because the plot i've chosen integrates the 5 books with each other, and converges into the 6th, with mystery and conflict aplenty. It's literally quite fantastic.

Which writers and artists have influenced your work so far?

I think Ernest Hemingway and/or Mark Twain have influenced my work the most. Reading them for the summer reading list was just lovely. They're real writers, and too many other authors just can't hold a candle to them. The writers that work on the WarHammer 40,000 series are also amazing. Some of the stories can be a bit dry, but the rest of them are just saturated and really draw you in without bombarding you with too much dialogue or detail.

What inspires you to write?

My wife and my baby inspired me to write. Since i'm a logistical and analytical person, I figured that my chances were highest of becoming successful in life the earliest if I wrote. I actually began writing when I was tired of life (at 24? I know...) and of the government lying and not taking care of its people like it's supposed to, and spawned my first book because I thought I would write a letter to the government as if it had forced me to commit suicide, and that's what caused the spark. It started over a year ago, but after I published the work after cleaning up the anger it contained in exchange for wit 6 months ago, I've been pushing out a book a month almost ever since. 

If you could take three books with you on to a desert island - which ones would you choose and why?

If I could take three books with me on a desert island, I would take really really REALLY fat novels of survival and island living guides. Whatever gets me the most survivability per page. If I can turn that desert island into paradise, that's the book for me.

From your experiences so far, what would be your best piece of advice for aspiring indie authors?

From my experience so far, the best advice I can give for aspiring indie authors would be to try to polish as much as you can the first time, because first impressions are crucial, but don't let perfect be the enemy of very good. I would also say that as new writers, we need to remove ourselves from our text in introductions and descriptions - people don't want to read about our life story. They picked up the book because they were interested. They read it because they wanted to know more. Keep yourself to your author bio, and you might have a better start than I did. Don't just be an author. Be a good writer.

Author of Meditations For My Children, Building Your Own Computer - No Frills, No Filler, Just Answers, My Suicide Note: A Sockdolager From Me To America, Quick Exercise For Everybody - Your Body Is What You Make It, and The Anti-Bible. Samples of my work may be found below.



Summers Are For Writing

Traditionally, the summer witnesses the lowest book sales of the entire year. In particular, the period between the 4th of July until the end of August is extremely quiet. I have seen threads on many forums complain about a significant drop in sales, but this decline is seasonal so it should not cause too much concern.

That is why I believe that this is the perfect time of year to really push on with any writing projects that we are working on. At the moment, most marketing efforts will fall on deaf ears so why not instead utilise this time of year to do what a writer loves best: writing. Set yourself a target to reach by the first day of September and do your absolute best to reach it.

One of the biggest challenges facing 'new' authors in the e-book landscape is that we are competing against authors (whether indie or traditionally published) who have sizeable back catalogues. So we need to do our absolute best to produce works of consistent quality that captivate the collective imaginations of our audience.

I have a feeling that the advent of the e-book will reward prolific writers who are able to produce diverse and engaging works of literature. So get writing - it is easy to get lost in the endless sprawl of marketing advice, but it is important to remind ourselves that there is nothing more important than the actual writing process itself.

Speaking of which, I will be unveiling a couple of exciting new projects over the next couple of days. Stay tuned for more information...


How to deal with bad reviews

Bad reviews are never a nice thing to receive - but I do think there is a way to soften the blow that they deliver.

From what I have seen there are 3 types of bad reviews you can receive (if you have any more, please add them below) and each one requires a different response:

1. Complaints about formatting and grammar - it is terrible when you receive this sort of review as it questions your professionalism as an author. However, it is a problem that can be fixed - you can re-work your manuscript or hire a proofreader and/or someone to format your book and correct these problems.

2. Complaints about the price - with the 'brand authors', you will often see readers leaving one star reviews because the e-book costs more than the print version of the book. But with self-published authors, I have found readers leaving negative reviews because someone has price a short story for $5 - make sure your writing is reasonably priced - and if you are selling shorter fiction make sure you state that it is a short story several times in your Product Description so your reader does not feel like they are being mislead.

3. Complaints about the quality of your writing - this is the toughest of the three as it questions your actual abilities as a writer. To make your self feel better, look up your three favourite novels - I am pretty sure you will find a number disparaging views for these books. Just as an example, I looked up Moby Dick on Amazon UK - I was shocked to see that Melville's masterpiece has 14 1 star and 15 2 star reviews out of 112 reviews.

However, if someone critiques your work rather than just saying, 'This is really crap, I demand a return', it would be foolish not to take their criticism on board and use it to ensure your next book improves.

Of course, there will be times when a negative review mixes all three of the above, but as writers we need to believe in the work we put out and be as thick-skinned as possible (as hard as that can be). 


Interview with Meghan Ciana Doidge

One of the great things about self-publishing as an indie author is the bonds you develop with fellow writers. The following is the first of many interviews that will be conducted with my esteemed colleagues. 

Tell us about the books you currently have available.

I have just “soft” launched my first novel, After the Virus, on Amazon in the Kindle format. After the Virus is an action-filled, post-apocalyptic novel set in modern day North American. The tale is told via alternating viewpoints from Rhiannon, who is stuck in kickass, survivor mode, to Will, who is trying to hide away from the devastation of humanity.

Which character of yours do you most identify with?

Usually the female lead, which in the case of After the Virus, would be Rhainnon.

Tell us about the process of writing your first book/short story? How difficult did you find it?

I actually stumbled into writing a novel as a Twitter exercise. I usually write screenplays and short films. After twittering the story of Rhiannon and Will for a couple of weeks I realized I was writing a novel. Then it became a little daunting, novels are WAY longer than screenplays, but over all it was a great experience, as the writing really flowed.

Please share your favourite paragraph from each of your works.

Hmmm… favourite paragraph, let’s see. How about this one (which is actually a little longer than a paragraph!):
“He closed the tailgate just as he heard the passenger door slam. She buckled up, then sat, clutching her sack and staring straight ahead. He might vomit. He wasn’t sure if it was the fear of hurting her further, or the trust she’d so readily placed in him, that made him ill. He ripped open a box of granola bars and climbed into the truck. He placed the bars on the seat beside him and shifted the truck into gear.
“Might be stale,” he warned, then he ate one anyway.
She reached a tentative hand, caked in dirt and blood, to press play on the stereo. He’d been listening to this on the drive over, but now, the third verse of Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al” hit him in the gut. He finally got it. He clenched his jaw to quell the rising emotion. The girl bobbed her head along with the bass line. He’d never had an epiphany before. In this moment, he chose to become the man he’d always wanted his father to be.

What are you currently working on?

A series of short stories based in the world of After the Virus, a bloody comedy called High School Reunion from Hell, and the 1st book in my Dragon Chronicles series.

Which writers and artists have influenced your work so far?

The complete list would be crazy long, but in short, After the Virus, was written in homage to Margaret Atwood, Stephen King & Robert Kirkman. I am also very influenced by the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, and William Gibson.

What inspires you to write?

Mostly there is just a story in my head and I need to get it onto paper… I love to see how it is all going to play out, but, if I am stuck, listening to music usually cements me back into the story. I make a playlist for each project I am working on.

How often do you write?

Usually every day, if I am lucky.

If you could take three books with you on to a desert island - which ones would you choose and why?
Can’t I just take my ereader and every digital book I own?? Well, I guess the battery would eventually run out… this is a really difficult question… I suppose I should say The Bible, The Illiad and Paradise Lost or The Canterbury Tales, just to sound like a writer probably should sound, but honestly I haven’t read those in years and then I only read them once! How about The Stand, Gone with the Wind, and Pattern Recognition?

From your experiences so far, what would be your best piece of advice for aspiring indie authors?

Write, write and write more. Don’t edit yourself on your first pass. Then get feedback from a lot of different people. Temper this feedback with your vision for the story. Rewrite, then rewrite again. Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and end. Believe.
Bio: Meghan Ciana Doidge is an award-winning independent filmmaker based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She has a penchant for bloody love stories, superheroes, and the supernatural. She also has a bit of a thing for chocolate, potatoes, and sock yarn.
AFTER THE VIRUS is Meghan’s first novel.
You can connect with her on: her personal blog, www.madebymeghan.ca

…as well as all the usual social media suspects.
Amazon Kindle link: http://amzn.to/m8XXkj

Free sample chapters: http://wp.me/P1B9jn-b