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12 Books in 12 Months

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Society of Authors Conference

Today the Society of Authors are holding a conference in Edinburgh. I am not at it, but have been following the live tweets from Colin Fraser of Anon Poetry with interest this morning. And that got me to thinking, perhaps other people would be interested in following the conference today. And then I thought thanks to Phyllis of The Edinburgh Reporter, I have the technology to help people out with that. So I’ve set up a real-time feed for you.

Unfortunately Word Press won’t let me embed it on the page, but if you click the link below it will open in a new window.

Click Here

The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4

Today I am going to post a few negative words about kindle at the behest of Twitter user @JacToTheFuture, who is trying to find reasons other than immediate financial impracticality why she should stick to paper.  So here you go, ten reasons not to buy a kindle, which you should listen to as I am currently in possession of a borrowed kindle and have read stuff on it and everything.

  1. Continue reading “The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4”

Literary Edinburgh at the Fringe

This week I had a guest post called Thar Be Monsters, about a comical literary event happening at the Forest Cafe on Monday as part of the Inky Fingers Minifest, which is just one of approximately 8000 festivals happening in Edinburgh this summer.  It can be hard to decide what to do to in amongst all the comedy, music, theatre, dance, literature, poetry, spirituality, politics and bag-piping due to take place, but posts like that one can help the discerning viewer make up his or her mind.

To that end, I would like to take this opportunity to say that if you are doing something as part of one of the festivals and you’d like a platform to tell people about it, you should get in touch about doing a guest post on the blog.  You can email me on ali.george85@yahoo.com or leave a comment below, on facebook, or on twitter.

Continue reading “Literary Edinburgh at the Fringe”

A Progress Report

Today being the 27th of the month, I am remarkably close to the half way point of the whole 12 books in 12 months fiasco (unless you count book 13, I suppose, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

Unfortunately this happens to be the point where progress has slowed down an embarrassing amount.  I ought to be basically done with book six by now, yet I’ve only written about 10,000 words.  Almost all of which is background and characterisation that I foresee myself editing down to maybe a few paragraphs in the final book.  It’s the type of stuff that it makes sense to know as an author, but probably feels a bit long winded and boring to the reader.  Pottermore, rather than the material a gripping plot is crafted from.

Continue reading “A Progress Report”

Judging A Book By Its Cover

This morning I was horrified to read someone on the Twitter saying that they had read the first page of a book and consigned it to the charity shop pile without hesitation.

Continue reading “Judging A Book By Its Cover”

Q&A with Ian Collings

This week I’m chatting to Shropshire based writer Ian Collings, who tweets as @ibc4 and blogs at Take One Step Back.  I’ve split this email into a Q&A format.

Which part of the writing process (condensed as it is into such a short period) do you find the hardest?  The editing? Re-writing? 

Because the writing process is condensed into such a short period with this project, editing and re-writing don’t actually get a look in.  Not yet, anyway.  The plan was to leave all the drafts for a minimum of 3 months before going back to look over them, but so far I haven’t had the time to go back and start editing any.  The hardest part of the writing process with this is therefore the purely practical aspect of fitting in writing time – when I sit down and do it, it’s a race against time to get the words out there so I just write and write, even if some of it’s nonsense.  These first drafts are littered with asides like “she said, by way of exposition,” which all add to the word count!  But generally speaking I think editing and re-writing are much harder work.

Secondly, have you ever wanted to ‘throw in the towel’ and walk away from  twelve books in twelve months?  Or, rather just concentrate on one through to publication there and then?
So far I haven’t wanted to walk away from the project at any point, although I’ve had to let go of the notion that I’ll make the 50k word count every time.  I think because I haven’t given myself the opportunity to get bored of it or even to get stuck by overthinking (there’s no time to think, after all!) that’s made it quite easy to keep going.  If I was reading back over it all the time I’d probably feel a crushing sense of doom about how much work there is still left to do on all of them, but the no-editing rule means I can just go yeah, I’ve written most of a book, go me! Now onto the next one!
How have other writers supported you? Have any derided your ‘project’?
Nobody has derided the project, although Debbie Taylor (Editor of Mslexia and author of The Fourth Queen) was a bit disbelieving when I told her about it at first.  She tends to write for a maximum of about a fortnight before having to take a break from it.  I haven’t really talked to a lot of authors about it yet though, although my intention is to do a series of author interviews on how they approach writing for book 13 (the one where I write about writing 12 books in 12 months).  Ian Rankin wished me luck on Twitter at the very beginning, which was kind of him, and I know from an interview I read with him that he drafted the first Rebus book in about a month – the difference there being that he didn’t then do the next 11 in quick succession, I guess!

I’ve had a lot of support from other people though, especially on Twitter.  The general consensus seems to be that it’s a slightly mad thing to do, but in a good way!

And finally, for today only, if you could take the credit for writing any book from the last hundred years, which would it be? Which of your current works in progress most resemble it?
The book I’d like to take credit for writing… brilliant question.  A difficult one, as well – there are lots.  I think maybe The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusack, because it was so clever and well written and made me cry – which is really rare, actually.  None of my books resemble it in the slightest, though!

How To Name A Character

I often come up with character names ahead of their personalities.  Not always, but often.

But when someone else comes  up with your character for you, it’s a little bit harder to name them.  I am in the process of writing book five, and before I started I had a suggestion from the lovely Arielle Bosworth (click her name to go to her blog) that “your protagonist should be a talking sheep who is also a wizard. It could be amazing.”

She went on to explain, quite rightly, that “sheep are entirely unrepresented in the fantasy genre.”  And if I don’t rectify this glaring omission, who will?

However, I had to then come up with a name for this character.  So I thought about it a bit, and decided perhaps I would gain some insight from looking up ‘sheep’ and ‘wizard’ in other languages.  This is what transpired:


I googled the Latin first.  Dead languages are pretty fantastical, after all.

In amongst all the adverts I found my answer – ‘Ovis Aries’.  Naturally the first two names that came to mind that sound a bit like these were ‘Ovid’ and ‘Archie’ – both of which could work.  Ovid, Roman poet who was very popular in the middle ages, unusual first name which could mark him out as special; and Archie, short for Archibald, a fairly old fashioned name meaning ‘brave’ which this sheep will have to be in order to complete his quest.  Whatever that is.

There was only one thing for it – I had to appeal to the internet for help.

And Twitter spake unto me saying:

And I thought ‘hm, the ideas I have for this are less mystical and aloof and probably more suitable for ten year olds.’  So I went on the facebook page to see whether they were in agreement.

And although the writing was rather small you could see that the Ovid tally rose ever further.

So, for the time being at least, that is what my wizard sheep is called – Ovid Archibald McHaggis.  One wonders how characters were named before the days of the internet.

How do you name your characters, other writers?  Do you have a set process, or is it a bit ad hoc, like me?  And do you ever change a character name half way through writing and then have to go back and check them all?

A Night of Writing Dangerously

For various reasons, some of which I mentioned in the second 12 Books post for Mslexia Magazine, I am very behind on book 3.  I have therefore decided to embark upon a night of writing dangerously.

Between midnight tonight and noon tomorrow I am going to write as much as I can without my brain exploding.  It’ll be exactly like what Jack Kerouac would do, except my wife won’t bring me pea soup and I don’t have a typewriter so I’ll have to make do with a laptop, a jar of coffee and half an Easter Egg.

You can follow my progress on Twitter @12books12months, if you’re up.

See you on the other side…

The Social Network

Yesterday I dedicated a not inconsiderable amount of time to attempting to get the 12 Books in 12 Months Facebook page more ‘likes’ – 100 by 10pm, as a matter of fact.  I failed.

However, some nice people did help out, and I think you should check out their work to help me say thanks.

Props to my lovely retweeters:

– Kirsty Wilkinson is an Edinburgh-based genealogist.  She runs her own business called My Ain Folk, and if you are looking to find out about your family tree, she can almost certainly help.  Her blog, The Professional Descendant, covers all kinds of information about genealogy and family history, and of course you can also follow her on twitter.

– Emma Livingstone is studying for an MA in publishing at the University of the Arts in London.  She blogs about publishing, arts, music and culture here, and you can also follow her on twitter.  And if you’re good, maybe one day she’ll help you get your book published…

– Sam Kurd is a writer and philosopher who reviews sci-fi and fantasy games, books and telly for places like Den of Geek, Sci-Fi Heaven and  Cirque Des Geeks.  He has also recently started work on a film script.  Follow him on the twitter too.

And thanks to the people who helped me get from 85 to a more respectable 97 – Rab, Ian, Rachel, Juliet (aka The Crafty Green Poet), Bob, Alastair (overlord of STV Local North Edinburgh and Greener Leith), Emily (Jewellery Designer), Caro, Ellen (St Andrews Uni DoSDA contender 2011/12) and Cougar.  If any of you want any links publicizing, let me know!

I appreciate that Facebook is deeply annoying in a lot of respects, but social networking feels like a pretty crucial part of getting this project into the public domain and that makes it a necessary evil.  So please keep liking the 12 Books page and spreading the word through the power of stalkerfeed!  Books 4-12 will thank you!

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