12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 10

A couple of days ago I was linked to an article in The Economist suggesting that soon people will stop using shelves for books and adorn them exclusively with knick knacks, much like that old lady you used to know who kept a faux-mahogany sitting room for special occasions (like drinking chintz out of the posh tea set).  The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of ePublishing and the kindle and will lead to seven plagues and the death of literacy.  Or something.

The article touches on the matter of eBook piracy, which is a very touchy subject and is often tagged onto the End of Publishing debate without much explanation.  I’ve read articles by a few authors saying it is A Very Bad Thing, and still more articles by different authors saying that actually it can raise your profile and boost sales.  A summary googling of the topic came up with piracy articles dating back over several years, which I shall now bullet point for your indifference: Continue reading “The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 10”

Still Writing…

Today I thought I’d revert to type a little bit and talk about how the 12 books in 12 months project is going.  For those of you who haven’t visited before and have been directed here by the Guardian Books page, the title of the blog means exactly what it says – this site is about my endeavour to write a book every month in 2011. If you read back through old entries you’ll find all manner of witty banter about word counts and synonyms and procrastination.  And some pictures of chickens.

However, because it’s August and I’m based in Edinburgh, I’ve been trying to give readers a bit of respite from constant posts saying things like “I haven’t written enough” or “I have written a whole load, read it immediately and give me validation,” by posting about the assorted festivals that are going on this month.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several guest posts about shows with literary themes, and I’ve written about assorted events at the Book Festival too.

There is more of that to come, including an interview with children’s author Andy Stanton tomorrow, but in amongst it all I’m still trying to write a whole bunch of fiction with which to entertain the masses.  Sometimes it’s good to remind myself.

Continue reading “Still Writing…”

When I Met Amanda Palmer

As some readers may know, in another life I am a bit of a freelance journalist.  Not enough of one to be able to give up administrative temping (unless I wanted to live in a shoe somewhere, but that would be ridiculous – where would I plug in my laptop?); but enough that occasionally I get to do interviews.

This being festival time, I managed to secure a couple of pretty cool ones.

Continue reading “When I Met Amanda Palmer”

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


12 books in 12 months?  Are you mental?

Kind Regards,


Monday 25/4/11 16:22

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.


Tuesday 26/4/11 13:15


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?

Tuesday 26/4/11 22:05


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…


Wednesday 27/4/11 09:01

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


Wednesday 27/4/11 12:45

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.


Thursday 28/4/11 00:14

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.


Thursday 28/4/11 07:45

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.


Friday 29/4/11 16:50

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


Friday 29/4/11 18:00

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.


Or something along those lines.  If you would like to play the part of BC, email, 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.


You may have guessed from the comparative blog silence that book 3 has been going pretty slowly.

I am currently out of the house at my temp job between 7.30 and 5.30 Tuesday-Friday, which gives me evenings, weekends and Mondays for this and other stuff.  Unfortunately I am juggling a bit more of the other stuff than usual at the moment.

For instance,  I said to STV Local “sure, I’ll profile all 21 bands involved in the Sick Kids Charity CD I wrote about for you” – which means setting up interviews with 21 bands, and trying to ask them all slightly different questions so that all the articles don’t wind up being the same. This means quite a bit of prep, and of course it takes time to write these things up.

I had another article commissioned by IdeasTap too, but the interviewee is very busy and hasn’t had time to answer my second round of questions – so essentially I can only file when there’s a gap in her schedule, which almost certainly won’t coincide with gaps in mine.

I’m also supposed to be setting up weekly Ten Tracks blogposts, which will hopefully get done today, and likewise I think I’m overdue a Mslexia update (although the onus is on me – there’s no set pattern agreed for those).  I’m also awaiting the answers from an email interview for an article for The Edinburgh Reporter, and need to send out some more for a different article I’d intended to have done for this week.

I’ve blown off several social events to give myself writing time, but it hasn’t been enough.  I think that logically, sleep now has to go!

Today being Monday 21st, if I was sticking in any way to the 2k daily word target I should be on 42, 000 words – barely any to go before 50k.  As it is, my word count is 8, 519.

If I can bash out 3,771 words a day between now and the end of the month it’ll be fine – theoretically that should only take a couple of hours because I know what I’m doing with the story and when I’m in the zone I type pretty fast.  But where to find those daily 2-3 hours?  In evenings this week I have at least 3 face to face interviews to do, which means travelling to various bits of Edinburgh, so maybe I can get some done on the bus – depending how much interview prep I’ve managed to get through already.  And I can do some in my lunch breaks, I guess.

I’ve also got to go to a gig on Thursday, because most of the bands I need to catch up with will be there; and a cocktail party on Friday because several people I blew off last weekend will be there and I can’t do it again.  The point of this project is universal adulation, not pissing off all my friends and acquaintances…

So anyway, I’m finding it a bit hard to get book-writing time shoehorned into my schedule just now (and don’t even get me started on reading time, because it makes me feel sad), but I’m going to schedule a few #WIP type posts from the meagre amount I do have for this week so that I don’t leave you hanging.  Next weekend I think there’s going to have to be a night of writing dangerously.

Also, if anyone has any thoughts on how to pre-empt the intevitable RSI that my writing lifestyle is surely going to cause before the end of 2011, do leave a comment!

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