Tag Archives: writing

The Dog Days of Daniel Wu

Okay, so here’s a thing I did. You can read it now. It’s just your average tale of werewolves, Oxycontin and a pitbull named Pablo.

wu

Buy it, buy it, you know you want it.

Lycanthropy and Other Things To Do In The Great State of Florida

So, last summer I had this odd little bet with myself that I could bang out a werewolf trilogy in under six months.

I failed. It took me about thirteen months instead, thirteen months of hairy, bone-crunching, howling-at-the-moon craziness that has left me all but straining at the leash to piss off and write a nice flossy pink bubblegum romance, just to have a break from trying to think up the best ways to describe exposed rib cages and the noises that parts of people’s skulls make when they go bouncing off the kitchen fittings.

If you’re looking for paranormal romance, you might want to give these puppies a pass. Unless you really like knowing what kind of noises that parts of people’s skulls make when they bounce off the kitchen fittings, in which case welcome aboard, fellow weirdos.

So, here it is. Book one in the Keys Trilogy, a happy little bedtime story of Florida lycanthropes, man-eating rednecks and why you should never mess with the kind of crazy old ladies who keep leaving their dentures on the draining board.

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Unfinished family business and a promise of paradise bring Katrina survivor Blue Beaufort to the Florida Keys, but what she finds there is beyond anything she could have imagined. At first glance her new home is nothing more than a small town in a tourist trap, unremarkable save for some unruly neighborhood dogs and a strangely high incidence of red-green colorblindness.

But then there’s the way the local boys tilt their heads when the wind a certain way, like they can smell trouble on the breeze, and while practical-minded diving instructor Gabe doesn’t seem the type to cling to superstition, he still won’t take the boat out when the moon is full.

And then there’s Gloria, a wilful seventysomething eccentric who for years has been den mother to packs of lost boys like Gabe, Joe and black sheep Charlie, but now presents them with the delicate problem of what to do with your elders when they start showing signs of dementia. Doubly difficult when Gloria – who even when healthy used to talk to people who weren’t there – shows signs of a miraculous recovery and drives all the way to Miami in her bedroom slippers.

When Blue steps in to help out, she thinks she’s going to be cleaning house and serving Jell-O and pills to an old lady, but Gloria’s house is not like other houses. The light fitting keeps swinging, and old records keep skipping, and Gloria’s miracle cure seems to have woken something in the house, a whispering entity that seeps into Blue’s dreams and starts showing her things she’d rather not see.

Like that cage in the basement.

As Blue wades deeper into the strange world of the wolf witch and her boys, she soon comes to realise that what happens at the full moon is actually the least of everyone’s worries.

The Wolf Witch is the first book in the Keys Trilogy.

Amazon.com

(This book is FREE to KindleUnlimited Subscribers)

What The KU Changes Mean For You (And Your Porn)

Kindle Unlimited will be undergoing a big change next month, overhauling the way that authors get paid and forcing many of us to get in touch with our inner starving-1940s-pulp writer.

Under the old system, KU paid out of the collective pot whenever a book was read up to 20% of the way through. This counted as a ‘borrow’ and meant Amazon would have to reach into their moth infested pockets to the tune of round about $1.30 or whatever that month’s KU rate was.

It didn’t matter if the book in question was a full length novel or a 4000 word long short story about some girls who mysteriously grew dicks after eating gas station hot dogs or drinking weird punch. If the reader got up to 20%, it counted as a borrow.

You can see how the novelists were getting the shaft from this system. Even more than the boyfriends of the girls who ate the gas station hotdogs, although almost certainly a lot less pleasurable.

Now, don’t start thinking that Amazon’s overhaul of the system has anything to do with their love of the long form novel. This is Amazon we’re talking about. They love only money and were getting pretty pissed off at having to pay out the standard borrow rate every time someone waded through the bloated front matter of a ropey porn book only to find that it was illiterate garbage.

Under the new system the author will be paid per page read. Nobody knows precisely what the rate per page will be yet, but there will also be new software in place to catch out authors who attempt to stuff their frontmatter (copyright pages, acknowledgements, etc) and also compute a standard number of words per page. So if you have one of those pages that spill a sentence into the next, no matter how you format the thing, you probably won’t be getting paid for that.

Admittedly I have more than one horse in this race. I mostly write novels, although I have been known to amuse myself with 7000 words of tentacle porn or werestrippers from time to time. On one hand I’m pleased that I might see some more money from KU on account of my longer works, but on the other hand I’m kind of sad that I can no longer make fast, dirty money from alien dickgirl threeways.

Does longer mean better?

Good lord, no. For reference, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged weighs in a whopping 645,000 words, while The Great Gatsby is as svelte as a bright young thing of the Roaring Twenties, clocking in at roughly 47,000 words. A book should be as long as it takes to tell the story and no more.

This is not to say that you can’t spin the story of two uninteresting people having boring sex with each other out for the length of the equivalent length of Lord of the Rings and more. EL James managed it, and is now at work on her Silmarillion, if the Silmarillion was a tacky money grab composed mostly of copypasted dialogue and e-mails and constant thoughts about the main character’s penis.

Several options spring to mind for the Kindleporn writer.

1) Move into erotic romance. This will mean writing longer works, because romance readers will tar and feather you if you attempt to make them pay $2.99 for 5000 words of fucking.
2) Bundling – putting stories into collections in order to garner a bigger page count for $$$.
3) Pull out of KU altogether. Amazon will be giving authors a chance to withdraw their books from KU immediately in July, regardless of the dates of your current 90 day enrollment period.
4) Start writing filthy novels. Yes, it takes longer, but in my experience dirty novels have a far better shelf life than short smut. None of the nine or so stories I wrote last winter have made me any money this month, but I still occasionally get royalty cheques for erotica I wrote back in 2001.

It’s definitely going to be an interesting time in the next month or so; nobody is really going to know the full story of how this affects them until the 15th of August, when July’s royalty statements roll around. To all of those authors who are panicking because they think the Kindleporn goldrush is over, it probably is, in a way . I think the series format and short form erotica are pretty much dead in the water, but remember – self publishers have a huge advantage in this respect. We can respond faster to changes in the market than publishing firms.

Change can be a good thing. It’s all about how you react to it, how you work with it. You’ve got to turn and face the strange.

And then maybe offer it a gas station hotdog. Just to see what happens.

Anna Roberts’ latest novel, A Box Full of Ashes is now available on Amazon.com and through Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t contain gas station hotdogs though. Sorry about that.

Writer’s Block And Other Myths (Mostly sasquatches)

Some books are easy to write. Whether it’s a character, an idea or a setting, sometimes something grabs you so hard that its impossible not to write it down. In the most serendipitous of these moments, the thing that grabs you is so grabby and so good that you can blast past the initial uncertainty and even flick two merry middle fingers to the dreaded Mid-Book Blahs.

The other extreme is a much more familiar story. It’s the one where you’re just putting words on page without much clue about what you’re actually doing or any real enthusiasm for the wordmatter you’re forcing yourself to excrete, two thousand words at a time. It’s those times when you’re staring at the screen wondering how the pink, frilly hell you got into this state in the first place, when the extent of the upfuckage seems so severe that nothing short of gasoline, a match and maybe a judicious ploughing of the earth with salt is ever going to even atone for the dreadful mess you’ve made, never mind clean it up.

At the very worst extreme it’s the point where everything grinds to a halt and you become that most pointless of creatures – a writer who doesn’t actually write anything.

This is usually the moment where a lot of people start blaming that mythical friend of all pun-inclined forum headers – the dreaded writer’s block. Before I can get into any more of the reasons why your novel might be stalled, we need to talk about writer’s block.

There is no such thing as Writer’s Block.

Look at it. Just look at what I just typed. Look at that fucker sitting there in the heading line like it’s an actual thing. I even gave it capitals. I don’t even give the sasquatch capitals and the sasquatch is more real than writer’s bullshit block.

Writer’s block is a myth. It does not exist. If you want to write, you will write. It’s that simple. There’s nothing stopping you. There is no magical anti-muse working against you. Writer’s block is bullshit. Say it out loud. Say it louder. There – doesn’t that feel better already?

Now, you may be side-eyeing this advice, which is fine. You may be thinking that it took Joseph Heller ten years to write Catch-22, and that James Joyce’s existence was a daily brawl with the written word when he would have much rather have been knocking out farty love letters to Nora. One of Joyce’s friends, so the legend goes, found James Joyce prostrate and groaning over his desk one day and asked him how the book was going. “How many words today, Jim?” the friend asked, only to meet with the despondent reply – “Seven.”

The friend attempted to cheer Joyce up by telling him that seven was better than nothing and that actually seven was pretty good going, for him, at which point the author raised his head from the desk and wailed “But I don’t know what order they go in!”

If you’ve read much of Joyce’s work – particularly Ulysses – you might understand the great man’s frustration. Every word, line and even punctuation mark in Joyce’s work is carefully considered and measured for shape, strength, pun capacity, resonance, texture and wit. It nearly drove him mad on numerous occasions, but the point is that Ulysses is complete. It’s done. If poor old brainstrained James Joyce can get from Stately plump Buck Mulligan all the way to yes, I said yes I will yes, then what the hell is your excuse?

If you’re citing – as the Bukowski poem goes – ‘light and air and time and space’ as the reasons why you can’t write, then maybe do something else. Find another form of creative expression that you like. Nobody cares that you can’t write unless you have the right chair and the right music and all your pencils are sharpened in a very specific way – we’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever put words on a page – either as a hobby or a profession – has at some point indulged in sometimes byzantine methods of procrastination, sometimes to the point of building entire houses in order to have the ‘perfect creative space’.

And it’s all pointless. It’s all utterly useless. If you find yourself tooling around in this way, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to do this at all. It’s not an easy question to ask yourself, and you may not like the answer, but that’s all it is – ‘writer’s block’, procrastination – call it what you will. It’s nothing more than your own laziness and reluctance to commit to a thing that – when you get right down to it – is actually a whole lot of fun.

Once you get past that and the answer is still ‘yes, I want to write’, it becomes much easier to stare down the real obstacles to writing (work, time, family) and make the time to write.

Stripped of its demonic, mythological status, writer’s block is often nothing more than a perfect storm of problems – plot problems, pacing problems, character problems or just outright problems with the entire premise of a novel in the first place. These are scary things to face, but like most problems they can be a) overcome, b) worked around or c) thrown screaming from a precipice into a gigantic pit of fire, scorpions and spikes.

I won’t lie – when it comes to problems, I have a sentimental fondness for option C.

Things You May Have Mistaken For Writer’s Block

  1. Your main character has suffered a radical personality shift halfway through the book and you don’t know how to deal with it. Relax. This can be fixed.
  2. You look back at the first half of your novel and realise that it not only has pacing problems but could be used to euthanise coma patients by gently sapping their will to keep breathing. Once again, relax. This can be fixed.
  3. You have no idea what happens next. Take a deep breath, pull up a notepad and relax. This can be fixed.
  4. The thing that was supposed to happen next has not happened next and you’ve rambled off wildly into an experimental mess. Calm down. The solution may hurt, but only for a moment. This can be fixed.
  5. Laziness. Admittedly this one is the most difficult to fix.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Seven – Say Cheese!

A short recap today – if only all the chapters in this droning borefest of a book were this short. Although obviously they’d be better if they contained a whole bunch of different words. And characters we could stand. And a plot.

Sadly we’re stuck with the ones we have here, but remember – Fifty Shades of Neigh is still only 0.99 in the Kindle store. You can get a whole bunch of different words (approximately 50,000 of them), sort of a plot and at least a couple of characters who don’t make you sick on sight. It wouldn’t be a faithful parody of Fifty Shades of Grey if I made the main characters too loveable, although I have to say I failed in creating a male lead who was even more repulsive than the original. Christian Grey sets the bar pretty high (or low).

Still, at least in my version there’s a hot Mexican transvestite to take the edge off. (‘hot Mexican transvestite’ – coming soon to weird search engine results for this blog) Continue reading

Fifty Shades Freed: The Musical!

Last time, on Fifty Shades Freed, Ana went out for drinks with Kate, and Christian came tearing back from a business trip in New York because she went out for drinks when he wanted her to stay in. For once Ana did not accept his all-encompassing excuse that his mother was a crack-whore and astonishingly, wrote her dingus of a husband an e-mail in which she effectively communicated her feelings about being told where she could and could not go.

Oh, and they apprehended Jack Hyde. You know – him. The antagonist. Our one last, desperate hope that this mess of IKEA assembly sex scenes and mindless money porn might turn out to have a plot somewhere.

Still, he’ll probably be out and enrolling in Art School in a couple of months, just like the last person who attempted to shoot Ana. So there’s that to look forward to. Maybe.

Chapter Eleven

Anyway, it’s not important, because Ana has come home bracing herself for a fight, only to find Christian has dressed up all sexy and is now lounging on top of the grand piano in lace-topped stockings and a blazing red dress like the one Michelle Pfeiffer wore in The Fabulous Baker Boys. Another season another reason, for makin’ whoopee

Summerland: A 1920’s Mystery – Now free in the Kindle Store

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Stay tuned for freebies this weekend, kids. I am about to give the Shameless Self-Promotion tag a good, hard workout. It stands to reason that since I spend so much time writing these books, it would be quite nice for people to read them.

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 “Well, people often think the magician’s assistant doesn’t do much. She stands around in a skimpy costume and men look at her and she twirls and vanishes, but the assistant is really the one doing most of the tricks. The magician is often just there to present the routine, to add the flourishes and patter, but the nitty gritty, the tripwires and levers and mirrors and drapes that go in to pulling off the perfect illusion – that’s the province of the skinny little girl in the spangles.”

Magician’s assistant Poppy has always been an outsider, dragged from one town to another, spat on for being a carny, for being the wrong sex, the wrong race. Then one rainy night in the Midwest, she finds herself performing card tricks in front of the great Harry Houdini. Fresh from his well-publicised investigation of the medium Mina Crandon, Houdini makes Poppy a proposal; she is offered the opportunity to join his private secret service of sceptics, debunkers and magicians. Her job is to infiltrate spiritualist circles and expose fraudulent mediums, a quest that takes her across the Atlantic and into the lives of two very different young Englishmen, who are about to learn that in spiritualist circles secrets are much more than just common currency.

Due to sexually explicit material Summerland is not recommended for readers under 18.

Amazon.com