December 4, 2011 in Dag

A great big experiment

Today, a volcano erupted in our backyard.

Nothing too big and frightening. It was actually one of those little science experiment volcanoes, the ones where you mix vinegar and bicarb in a bottle and then watch it fizz out and all around. It was pretty fun. The kids thought it was fantastic (and given I’m just a big kid, I guess that counts for me too).

What basically happened was a chemical reaction. Two ingredients, neither particularly volatile, were mixed together and all of a sudden – foom!

Thinking about this little experiment put me in mind of the business of writing and selling books (I know – what doesn’t?). I’d love to figure out how to get the same sort of reaction for my writing. I wish I could find a way to combine some simple marketing ideas in such a way that they produce a massive explosion of sales, pushing my books way up into the heights of the Amazon rankings.

Oh well – at least it sounds like a pretty good metaphor. And as regular readers will have figured out by now, there’s nothing I like better than a good metaphor. I could go on about how this experiment is a bit like writing in general – how a story is made up of a bunch of different ingredients which combine together to form something exciting and new.

Because, let’s face it, writing is really just one big experiment. We never quite know what we’re doing as we write. And once it’s done, we never know how others will respond to it. That’s both the beauty and frustration of it.

Till next time, hope all your writing experiments produce the reaction you want, and don’t explode in your face.

November 27, 2011 in Dag

A long awaited treat

Last week was a pretty special one. I finally got to fulfill a long-standing ambition. I got to see Cold Chisel play live.

You folk on the other side of the world probably would have no idea what this is about, so I guess I better explain. Cold Chisel are the great Australian rock band. They cut a swathe through the Aussie music world in the late-seventies and early-eighties before self-destructing. In little more than 5 years, they released 5 albums, all gems, and developed a reputation as amazing live performers. All just a little before my time.

Sure they’ve reformed a couple of times previously, but I was never organised enough to take advantage. When I heard they were touring this year (first time since the ’90s), I made sure to score tickets.

And what a night it turned out to be. Things opened with the support act, You Am I. They’re not exactly unknowns – they’ve been around nearly twenty years, hold some sort of record for albums debuting at no. 1 on the Aussie charts, and have toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones. But you could tell that most of the audience was from an older generation and here for the Chisels only. The applause was polite but quiet. Not that that deterred the band who ripped into their set with relish, oblivious to the lack of attention they were receiving.

Then time came for the mighty Chisels. For two hours, they ruled the stage, reeling out hit after hit. Nearly thirty years after their first break-up, it was amazing to hear that the power, the energy, not to mention the musicianship, was all still there. And the crowd lapped it up, singing along to every song.

It was definitely worth the wait.

Three days later, I’m still finding myself breaking into Chisel songs and reliving the experience. What it’s really done is underscore for me the value of the creative life. What this band meant to so many people is quite extraordinary.

I don’t ever expect to be in a position where I can touch anywhere near as many people as Cold Chisel have. But in the short time I’ve been putting my books out, I’m amazed at how the creative act of writing and putting out a book can enable connection with other people.

And You Am I also inspired me. They showed me that even if you’re not getting the appreciation you deserve, it should never stop you going out, doing your best, and loving what you do. Because part of the joy of being creative is the act of creation itself.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ll keep working at getting my writing out because that’s what I love to do. And at those moments when I do get a response, and do make a connection with another reader, then that will just make it doubly special.

And I can’t finish this post any other way than posting up a clip from the concert. This is Cold Chisel in intimate acoustic mode doing one of their classics, When the War is Over. If I can win a few more fans for this great band, especially from outside Australia, then I’ll feel that I’ve done something worthwhile. So enjoy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFZKQ9dnCEI]


November 22, 2011 in Dag

Close but no cigar

A couple of weeks ago I put up a post about the way people in the indie writer community go out of their way to help each other out – The Free Economics of the Indie Author World.

In the last week, I’ve had the opportunity to see first hand the amount of time and energy the community is prepared to put in to support one of their own.

Last week I had the good fortune to have my novella, Doodling, selected as a semi-finalist in the Goodreads Choice awards, humour category. I’m not quite sure how it happened. I was barely even aware that the awards were on. I cast a vote for myself in passing (why not?) and then promptly forgot about it.

So I was well and truly amazed when I received an email from Goodreads telling me my book had been nominated. I couldn’t believe it. There was my little, self-published book, up there on the page with books by names such as Tina Fey, Ellen deGeneres and Penn from Penn and Teller. Pretty mind-boggling for me. I felt like I really was in the big league now.

So, the first thing I did was I went to the community, and my friends on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, to see if anyone was willing to help out. I don’t have a massive following myself, having only entered the world of social networks a few months ago. But the response was amazing. The support and encouragement really showed me the value of this community.

In particular, I’d like to single out Donna and David Brown who went beyond the call of duty in their support, even going so far as to:

  • Invent a new hashtag on twitter – #votedoodling
  • Design some fab banners which I was way too slow to put up on my sites: 

 

  • Even create an amazing promo video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPeOsFJDtl0] 

In the end, Doodling didn’t make it to the final round of the awards. Still, I feel like I’ve really achieved something just by being nominated. And that could only have happened because of the support I received. So I’d just like to pass on a big Thank-You to all the members of a community which I’m really honoured to be a part of.
And if you want to see more of the extraordinary work Donna does promoting indie writers, check out her amazing event, Adopt an Indie.
    November 12, 2011 in Dag

    Shay Fabbro – Guest Post

    This is one busy week at Dag-Lit Central. I’m pleased to announce my third guest for the week, the Queen of Squee herself, the amazing Shay Fabbro.

    Today Shay is going to talk about the things authors should or shouldn’t put in their novels. And she’s giving you a chance to win a copy of her ebook “The Chosen”.

    So without any further ado, over to Shay.

    What should and should not be put into novels

    For today’s post I thought I would tackle the issue of what authors should or should not be obligated to put in their novels. A lot of this is going to be more relevant to only certain genres but I hope this post will give authors something to chew over.

    The idea for this post has been brewing for quite some time, mainly because of reading other random things on blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. The purpose of this isn’t to offend anyone, although logic and simple statistics says that I will most likely offend at least a few people but that’s a chance we all take every time we open our mouths or write something down, isn’t it?

    This first is something I actually saw on FB earlier in the week and found it fascinating. It’s a subject that I find to be a little uncomfortable to approach. When I have to teach reproduction in my freshman biology classes I have such terrible anxiety that I will break out into giggles when I have to say certain words or that I will stutter when I say them. Anyone see Scrubs? Elliot Reed and her total terror of saying sex words? That’s me, only not as dramatic 😉

    Anyway, the topic of sex in books has been something that most authors have struggled with, unless they write in a genre that uses that, like romance or erotica (see earlier comment about some of these things only being genre specific).  The topic on FB was whether certain genres should or shouldn’t include sex scenes. My answer was “If the author feels it necessary to the story, then yes.” But an author shouldn’t feel obligated to throw in an obligatory sex scene just because someone else says they should, or because Hollywood movies seem to do that. For me personally, I don’t feel comfortable writing sex scenes so I won’t use them, regardless of whether someone ELSE feels it would be appropriate. I would rather have a little romance, some hugging, kissing, and let the reader imagine what they will. Do the characters have sex or don’t they? As far as my story lines go, whether they do or not isn’t relevant to the plot.

    The other subject I want to touch on is whether writers should or shouldn’t include characters of certain skin color, religions, or sexual preference. I actually had someone  leave a comment on my old website lambasting me for refusing to include gay/lesbian couples in my Portals of Destiny series. *cue jaw hitting the floor* I was astounded that someone would dare to tell me what sort of characters I HAD to include in my books. I refuse to play the politically correct game and feel like I have to create characters to please each and every person on the planet. If a characters sexual orientation, religion, skin color, etc has relevance to the story, then by all means WRITE THEM! But readers shouldn’t begin reading a book expecting that each and every one is going to be a perfect balance of all things PC. Not gonna happen.  If a reader is looking for something specific in the way of characters, sex, etc then they should read a genre that matches what they are looking for, NOT expect every author to write to their specific preferences.

    Find me:

    Twitter: @ShayFabbro and @DrShayFabbro

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorshayfabbro

    Website: http://shayfabbro.com/

    Giveaway details

    Shay is offering to giveaway a copy of her amazing science fiction ebook, “The Chosen”. Just leave a comment below to be entered in the running.

    And please make sure to leave your email address so she can get in touch with the winning entrant.

    November 9, 2011 in Dag

    Tahlia Newland – What makes me stand out from the crowd

    This is a big week for visitors to Dag-Lit Central. I’m proud to introduce my second guest for the week, the amazing Tahlia Newland. She writes young adult/adult urban fantasy with a touch or more of romance in it and a focus on challenging readers’ perception of reality. I have an ebook copy of  her short paranormal romance, ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’, to give away, and A Matter of Perception, her anthology of urban fantasy & magical realism stories, is  available on ebook  –  for the special release price of 99c until the 14th November.  ‘Realm Hunter,’ a Diamond Peak novella, will be released in December. 

    What make me stand out from the crowd

    When Jonathan first asked me to write a blog post on this topic, my first thought was that it was the hot pink tutu and lime green gumboots that made me stand out, then I  realised that everyone else was wearing hot pink tutus too and they were standing on fluffy foot stools with loud hailers shouting, ‘look at me. Look at me!’ Suddenly, I felt short and my gumboots seemed a little cumbersome compared to their high heeled diamante shoes. Some of them even sat on step ladders and had a cluster of spruikers gathered at the bottom handing out leaflets to passing people. How could I stand out amongst that lot?

    I sat on the edge of the gutter and stared at all the people buying books from the brightest, noisiest, tallest authors. I was tempted to stick my thumb in my mouth, curl into a small ball and rock, but I didn’t. I stood up and walked right into the middle of the throng. “I love your pink tutu,” I said to the nearest author. And who did your awesome Mohawk?”

    The author frowned, ran his hand over his head, checked his hips, glanced behind him then pointed at his chest. “Are you talking to me?” he asked.

    I grinned and nodded. He grimaced, picked up his stool and scarpered (That’s Aussie for knicked off ie ran away.) 

    Whoops, I hadn’t meant that to happen. The only explanation for his behaviour was if he didn’t see the pink tutu or the lime green Mohawk. I giggled and looked around and realised that everyone else probably didn’t see themselves quite the same way as I did. The giggle turned into a chuckle and the chuckle morphed into a laugh.

    A girl wandered over, tucked her fingers into the tops of her jeans and narrowed her eyes at me. ‘Why are you standing there laughing?” she asked.

    “Because everything isn’t what it seems.”

    “What is it then?”

    I waved my arm in a wide arc. “It’s all just a passing dream.”

    “Huh?”

    “Yesterday has gone, tomorrow hasn’t come, and as soon as I say now, it’s passed. Where is everything, if it’s not a dream?”

    She shrugged her shoulders, frowned, and shook her head, but she didn’t go away. She thought for a moment, then she grinned. ‘Where’d you get the awesome Mohawk?”

    “My mother did it for me,” I replied.

    I’m the one asking tricky questions. I’m not the only one who sees the circus, but I’m one who might be able to help you see it. Oh, and watch out for the shadow with the flaming eyes standing over your shoulder, you might not be able to see it, but I can assure you that it’s there. 

    About A Matter of Perception 

    Do you see what I see? Take a bunch of supernatural beings, a battle of magical light, a mysterious hole in the pavement, a dream of a future past and a pair of rose-coloured glasses, mix them with a little romance and a smidgen of philosophy and you might be left wondering if it isn’t all just a matter of perception. This thought-provoking collection of urban fantasy and magical realism stories includes ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ and ‘The Boneyard’, a semi finalist in the Aussiecon 4 Make Ready fantasy/scifi competition of 2010.

    Author links –  if you read Tahlia’s books could you please help her out by posting a short review on Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you.

    http://tahlianewland.com

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tahlia-Newland-author/188047104605893

    http://twitter.com/#!/TahliaNewland 

    http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5283573.Tahlia_Newland

    Giveaway details
    Tahlia is offering one ebook copy of  her short paranormal romance, ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’, to give away. In order to enter the draw, all you need to do is:

    1. Go to her Facebook page and like it
    2. Leave a comment below saying why you’d like to read the book.

    Please make sure to leave an email address in the comment so Tahlia can be in touch with you if you win.