Members 72. Reading

With one thing and another, I had not taken the Sunday paper for a while, but I organised to get myself to the shop last week. To my absolute delight, the paper is running a promotion, gifting a Penguin Classic each week.

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Members 59. Rome – the Eternal City

It’s no secret that much of Sean 1 is set in Budapest.

Nor will anybody be surprised that Sean works in a field where I happen to have spent my first career.

That first career involved living and working in many places. One of them being Rome. A city which I will be visiting in a few days.

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Members 57. Finding the Why

Why would he do that? More to the point, why would she? I knew, the characters are my creations after all. The reader, however would have to guess.

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Members 55. Writing School

This year, in Members, I am going to write alternate weeks on Writing and Lifestyle. The first series of lifestyle posts will focus on my decision to stop drinking alcohol.

I titled the writing series “My novel and I – a battle to the death.” A shade melodramatic, but indicative of how I’m feeling about Sean.

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Going Solo 16. Sean

In Paperback Writer, I made reference to my Work in Progress (WIP). The working title is Sean 1. The novel exists in several forms. On Scrivener, On Ulysses and in several cardboard folders on paper.

Writing a novel is a challenge on many levels. Finishing the manuscript is tough. Revisiting and editing that manuscript is torture, (I am currently avoiding any and all revisiting) and once one is happy with the product, a whole new avalanche of tasks arise. How to get the novel to readers?

Publishing

Partly as procrastination, and partly through genuine curiosity, I researched the various publishing processes.

1. Traditional.
i. Step 1 is to find an agent. You may or may not succeed and if you do it may take years.
ii. Step 2, the agent finds someone to publish your work. This too may take years.
iii. As author, you will get a small % of the cover price of each book sold. In turn, you will pay a % of that % to the agent.

The above is a gross over-simplification, but the reality is that it’s incredibly difficult to get traditionally published, and then incredibly unlikely that any money will result.

2. Self-publish. The giant in the sphere is Amazon. Sure there are other players – Apple Books for example. However, the majority of e-book sales and even self-published paper books go through Amazon. Amazon takes the majority of the cover price, but unlike a traditional publisher, Amazon does not source the expertise required to publish a novel as a traditional publisher does.

Again, this is an over-simplification, but the result is not dissimilar to traditional publishing – you are unlikely to sell much and if you do, you won’t make much.

Alternative

I’m not an experienced author, but I have done a bit of business – so I looked at these models from that start point. As an author, current publishing models stink.

Hence, stuartlennon.com. I have a membership model. I ask members to pay £12 per year. £1 per month. In effect, buy me a coffee once every 3 months. In return, Members get access to me directly in a bespoke Slack channel, a Members post each week and early access to anything that I publish during their membership. There are costs to hosting a website and managing a membership scheme, but other than those, that £12 per year comes to me. Not to a publisher, not to Amazon and not to an agent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not picking up hundreds of new members, and anything that I write will live or die by its quality, but as a businessman, maintaining control at least makes me feel that I am in charge of my own destiny.

My writing is supported by people like you.  Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

 

Going Solo 13. Paperback writer

I’ll become a paperback writer.

We had sold MTI and I took some time to decompress.

Since childhood, I had nurtured the idea that I was meant to be an author.

If not now, then when?

I set about converting a corner of the living room to my writer’s den, I bought an iMac and every book on writing that I could lay my hands on. I began following writers, both established, and aspiring, on Twitter.

It occurred to me that some point, I ought to write something. But what? It wasn’t as though I had a specific story in me, straining to burst from my chest.

I started this blog to chart the progress of the novel, of my becoming a paperback writer.

I thought I might write about my time in Central Europe. So, I bought Scrivener.

Nothing happened.

Well, not nothing exactly. I spent a lot of time on the internet and in the fridge. Then, I discovered NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Check out the website, but the concept is pretty simple. Write 50,000 words during the calendar month of November. So I did. It was all going so well, I wrote drafts for two novels. Around 90,000 words. Then I realised a few things.

1. A novel is a novel, a memoir is a memoir. My “novel” was more of a memoir and was interesting to me, but not to anyone else.
2. A first draft is a milestone, but it is a long way from a destination.
3. Writing fast for a thing like NaNoWriMo without a clear plan and outline produces a lot of words, just not necessarily in the right order.

The novel is not yet on the shelves, but it’s getting there. Words on this blog, added up would be pretty close to novel length too.

There is a membership option on the site, which grants access to members-only posts and electronic copies of any work that I publish in the year. Almost pre-sales of the novel, if you like.

Next week, Loggedoff Ltd.

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Through Gritted Teeth

Through gritted teeth, I’m saying out loud, “the funk is finished.”
I have been flying through task lists and dealing with all sorts of domestic drama, promising myself that I will find the time to get editing again.

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Writer’s Block

The Situation

Whether writer’s block is a thing or not, is beyond my pay grade. I do know that I haven’t done any writing for a week or more.

Why not?

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Book? What book?

Book

It’s been quiet on the book front this week. By quiet, I mean that I have been writing for the blog, for Nero’s Notes and for the jobby-job. Not one word has been written on Sean.

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Working Tools 20. – Music

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Leo Tolstoy.

I’m writing scenes set in Budapest in the early 1990s. My protagonist, Sean is in a bar. Everything is going his way. He’s invincible, unstoppable. The world is his oyster and everything is coming up roses, (ouch – talk about a mixed metaphor.) He is full of that impossible confidence of youth.

I want the reader to feel all of that, to be transported to a smokey bar, whisky in hand, rock music booming from the speakers, ready to party hard.

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” E. Y. Harburg.

History

I lived in Budapest in the 1990s. Sean and I have similar tastes in music. To get inside Sean’s head, I decided to build a playlist.

Wow.

I’m back there. It’s all I can do not to pour myself a Johnnie Walker Red. I can smell the bar, see the faces. Memories rush back with every chord.

I messaged a friend from those days. We reminisced about basement rock clubs full of leather jackets, tattoos and sticky dance floors. He suggested some missing tracks. Listening to a playlist melted 25 years, taking us both back to those days. It was a joy to bathe in nostalgia and “feel those feelings” again. The question is, can I communicate those feelings to the reader, without the music?

Technique

I can’t use the lyrics. In order to quote Guns and Roses or U2, I need their permission, which can be withheld or charged for. That’s overhead that I can’t afford, neither in terms of money, nor time.

Still. I’m a writer. Communicating is a core skill, I hope. How hard can it be?

Turns out, really hard.

I’m going to invest some time in creating specific playlists for each character and each venue. At worst, I get to luxuriate in memories of my youth, and the scenes become much more vivid in my mind’s eye.

I’ll publish them in the members section of the site.

Now. Where did I leave that Johnnie Walker?

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