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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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doctorwho

What’s Your Favourite Geeky Website?

Seeing as this month I am writing a book in the scifi oeuvre, it feels only right to make a wee tribute to geekery.  And those of you about to get up in arms, look around the room at your collection of lightsabres, sonic screwdrivers and vulcan ears before you try to tell me the two don’t go hand in hand. 

I’m not saying geekery is a bad thing, or that it’s limited to Science Fiction.  Lots of my favourite geeky things have nothing whatsoever to do with space travel, aliens, or future dystopias.  Some are just people who are very dedicated to a particular cause. 

Here’s a list of some of my favourite geeky things online. 

  • Molly Ringle’s Lord of the Rings parodies.  She wrote these nearly ten years ago but I still think they’re great. Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King.
  • My other half is in the process of profiling every incarnation of Doctor Who on Den of Geek.  So far he’s done William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Colin Baker.  He’s funny about them, which is helpful for the less well informed, and knows his stuff which is good when a challenger approaches.
  • Do you like trains?  Do you speak Gaelic?  Well maybe you’ll enjoy this blog about trains, written in Gaelic. 
  • If you like occasionally foul mouthed graphic novel writers, you’ll love the Talk like Warren Ellis quote generator.  Not for the faint hearted.
  • All episodes of TMWRNJ, a TV show from the late 90s starring Stewart Lee and Richard Herring that’ll probably never make it on to DVD now but has a cult following that often discuss it / do bird puns in hushed tones (said following consists largely of me and my mate).

See, barely any scifi at all.  But clearly there are tons more out there, so what’s your favourite geeky thing on the internet? Leave a comment below, the world needs to know!

Be Part of this Blog

I have had an idea to make this process a little more interactive, but in order for it to work I need the help of YOU, The Public.

Do you have a spare 15-30 minutes a day?

Would you be able to dedicate those minutes to sending me a short email asking about 12 Books in 12 Months?  Perhaps you have a passing interest in the writing process, where I get my inspiration, this month’s genre, or how I wear my hat?

I would like one guest emailer a week to enter into a correspondence.  They email me a query or a challenge, I email back, and so on – then the resulting dialogue goes onto the blog for all to see, alongside any links or promotions the other party wishes to promote.

(For those in the know, this is essentially the same premise as The Writer’s Tale, but with several Ben Cooks playing opposite my Russel T Davies, and no publishing deal immediately obvious.)

Here is an example of what I mean:

Monday 25/4/11 10:53
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Ali,

12 books in 12 months?  Are you mental?

Kind Regards,

BC

Monday 25/4/11 16:22
ali.george85@yahoo.com

Dear BC,

No, I am not mental.  I have been writing books and stories since I was a tot, because I find it fun.  I can see how writing a book a month for a year might make it less fun, because it’s an awful lot of words and takes over a large amount of time.  However, I am very consciously not editing as I go because there isn’t time, and since editing is probably the hardest part of the writing process, that helps relieve stress.

I’m also changing genre every month so that I don’t get bored.  And I am accepting challenges and suggestions from You The Public to incorporate into each book, which keeps it fun and a bit different.

Ali

Tuesday 26/4/11 13:15
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Ali,

I read on the blog that the fact you aren’t editing as you go is the reason why you aren’t making the books available for us to see at the end of each month.  That’s fine, but how do we know you’re actually writing them at all?

BC

ali.george85@yahoo.com
Tuesday 26/4/11 22:05

BC,

That is one part of the reason – as you can see from my first novel, published in all its original draft glory, it’s engaging in parts but occasionally loses the plot a bit.  Well, a lot.  But there is also the point that as part of book 13, The One About Writing Twelve Books in Twelve Months, I am going to include stuff about the editing process, and trying to get publishers and agents interested.  I’m also going to have a bash at self publishing one of them.  Something tells me that nobody will want to buy them if they’re already available for free download.

In response to the ‘how do we know you’re writing them at all question’ – ask my partner and friends how many times I’ve said no to social engagements ‘because I’ve got to get some writing done’ over the past few months!  You can also regularly read and hear excerpts of the work in progress on the blog.  Plus, if I was faking, I’d probably come up with slightly more impressive word counts…

Ali

Wednesday 27/4/11 09:01
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

OK, so what happens if you don’t get any of them published?  And what is the deal with word counts?

BC

Wednesday 27/4/11 12:45
ali.george85@yahoo.com

If I don’t get any of them published, the edited versions will be made available for free download, hopefully at some point next year – although the editing process takes a lot longer than initially bashing out the first draft so I can’t give you any exact dates as yet.

As to word count, the general aim is to try and reach 50, 000 words per month.  This is based on the target set by National Novel Writing month.  It’s about the length of a comparatively short paperback – think in terms of the early Darren Shan books.  I read somewhere on the internet that the average first novel is around 72,000 words – books thicker than that are harder to get published if you are a first time author because retailers are concerned they won’t be able to shift you as a relative unknown, and their shelf space is valuable.  However, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t reach 50k because frankly, I have a lot of other stuff going on.

Ali

Thursday 28/4/11 00:14
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

What stuff do you have going on?  Surely nobody has time to do a project like this and also maintain a life?  I would love to write a book one day, but I know that realistically I don’t have the time.

BC

Thursday 28/4/11 07:45
ali.george85@yahoo.com

I work 4 days a week and in the other 3 am trying to build up a career as a freelance journo, which involves a lot of pitching articles to editors and volunteering my services at websites including The Edinburgh Reporter, STV Local, IdeasTap, IWeTwoThree and others listed here.  I also volunteer for a music website called Ten Tracks, doing the blog, ad hoc admin and occasionally helping on the door at gigs.

Generally speaking the thing that suffers as a result of all this is my sleeping pattern.  However, I regard it as being worth it on the grounds that if I can build a name as a freelance, the 4 days a week currently spent temping can gradually become 3, then 2, and one day I might even be able to cover my rent and bills through writing alone – be it fiction, journalism, or a mixture of the two.  It’s not as if I have more time than other people, it’s more a question of what I choose to do with it.

Ali

Friday 29/4/11 16:50
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Sounds like a lot to take on board.  So how will you spend your Friday night?  Writing?

BC

Friday 29/4/11 18:00
ali.george85@yahoo.com

Maybe.  Sometimes I’ll combine socializing with journalism, eg I’ll go to a gig or whatever and then write it up for a website.  It’s weird, journalism is almost a form of procrastination before doing 12 books now.  It’s quicker to conduct a phone interview and type it up than to write a book, after all – and there are deadlines on articles, whereas the books are done as a personal choice.  Then there’s blogging, which is the form of procrastination that comes before journalism.  On weeks where my personal blog has been updated every day, there’s a possibility that there was an article I should have been writing that I left to the last minute.

Having said that, I do try to have at least one relaxing evening at the weekend.  I think I’d go a bit nuts otherwise.

Ali

Or something along those lines.  If you would like to play the part of BC, email ali.george85@yahoo.com, or drop me a comment either here or on the Facebook page.

Emails can be as long or as short as you like and you can ask me anything at all – although I reserve the right to ignore anything inappropriate and am unlikely to respond to Nigerian princes who want to deposit $1 million in my bank account.  I’ve been burned before.

Helpful Resources

Further to my Procrastination? post, I thought it only fair to put up some more links to interesting sites you can read on the internet instead of writing 12 books in 12 months.  I like to think that reading people’s websites is a bit like people watching, ergo totally like researching characterisation.

Well, I didn’t think of it like that til about ten seconds ago, but it sort of makes sense actually.  Anyway, get your eyeholes around the following:

Billygean – a very funny and open blog about living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  The writing in this is excellent – there’s no sort of ‘oh, poor me’ stuff to make you feel uncomfortable, rather it’s warm and engaging and often very funny.

Pictures for Sad Children – webcomics.  Funny webcomics.

Dystopian Fuschia – a bit like my Daddy Long Legs site, this has all kinds of bits and pieces on it.  The focus is humorous comment on telly.  Not for those who like Russell Howard, though.

Hope you like these, and have a nice Easter weekend.  I will be writing a bit (1,747 words done so far today), but I’m not sure how much.  This is at least in part because I have Stuff To Do.

To elaborate, for no very good reason, tonight I’m heading out to the Cameo Cinema’s second night of horror (which will run from 11pm till around 7am tomorrow); then getting the train over to Fife tomorrow to have a picnic in the rain with my family.   Sleep is for the weak, after all.

Oh, and I’ll have to watch the first episode of Doctor Who anywhere between one and several times.  Well, those sci fi and fantasy novels are due any day now…

Poor Prose

I received a text from my other half this morning which read:

My new favourite line from a book: “the birds in the oak trees knew nothing of totalitarian regimes or the cares of humans.”

….

Yes.

On one hand, this put me in mind of Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Brian: Consider the lilies…
Woman: Consider the lilies?
Brian: Oh, well, the birds then.
First Man: What birds?
Brian: Any birds!
Second Man: Why?
Brian: Well, have they got jobs?
Third Man: Who?
Brian: The birds.
Second Man: Have the birds got jobs?
Fourth Man: What’s the matter with him?
Third Man: He says the birds are scrounging!
Brian: Oh no, no, the point is: the birds, they do alright, don’t they?
Fourth Man: Well, and good luck to them!
Second Man: Yeah, they’re pretty!

On the other hand, it threw me on to the horns of a furious dilemma.

Well, not that furious.  But it made me wonder, should it give me hope that lines of prose like that one make it into print?  Or should I find it depressing?

Surely, if people are publishing books with lines of prose that are laughably awful, someone at some point will publish one of my books, which are at times not too bad at all.  There again, maybe readable books in which incidents of humour are deliberate rather than unintentional are not what the modern publisher is looking for?  Based on the evidence above, it’s hard to tell.

Still, I’ve no right to fall into a quandary over this.  After all, my favourite line in a book comes from a Torchwood story by Dan Abnett, and was almost certainly not intended to be as funny as I found it.  The line in question is:

“Tosh’s new leather jacket was very cool beans.”

How that got past first draft stage, never mind editors, proof readers and the like, I do not know.  Perhaps they liked it because it encapsulates the way people really speak an’ that – even though it wasn’t presented in the context of character dialogue?

Or maybe they didn’t notice, because Abnett churns out about a book a week into the assorted Doctor Who and Warhammer empires and there simply isn’t time to read them all.  Either way, I love it, and as such am in no position to badmouth poor prose.

But that doesn’t mean I wish to write it.  Not deliberately, anyway…

Word Count: 0

For those expecting the actual writing to begin today I should probably mention that I am Scottish, and as such New Year’s Day is designed exclusively to help me recover from Hogmanay.  However, I will be downloading I Clavdivs* at the same time as sprawling on the couch with crisps and tea and a Doctor Who (new series 5) box set.

Tomorrow, Caligula’s Blog begins in earnest.

*I mean the classic BBC series I Claudius, where they use the roman letter that looks like a ‘v’ instead of a ‘u’  in the title.  But I quite like calling it Clavdivs.

 

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