Friday, December 18, 2015

Getting back on the wagon (and I don't mean drink!)

Jeeze this real world work lark can be a drag eh?! It has been a while since I've posted anything here, which is personally disappointing, but the pressures of the real world do sometimes have to take priority. (the downside of being an Indie author).

The last three or four months have been nothing but work, I've have completely exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and am in desperate need of the upcoming Christmas break - yay! I have tried to write a few posts, but have chosen to delete them after a quick proof read. It is a bit like writing a book, I think you need to have the head-space to be able to focus on, and enjoy, the writing - if you aint 'plugged in' then you ain't doing it justice. That's my thoughts. However, a week away from the break and as far as work is concerned, there is nothing more I can do that will improve the situation in the immediate future so my brain returns to my passion - writing. (Also fishing, but that is an escapism that will have to wait).

INVICTUS Part 1 - Introducing Richard - This story has been submitted to the Wishing Shelf Awards, and I am hopeful that it will achieve something - maybe even just a mention in dispatches - and with the finals of the Awards scheduled for May 2016, I have turned my focus to finishing INVICTUS Part 2 - as yet of no specific title. Even though 'Elementals' sits with my editor as I chip away at the cost of that, my thought process is to leverage any interest generated by my WSA entry by having the 'next' one released and out there. And, progress is starting to look pretty OK. 

SO, to kill or not to kill your main characters? This is a topic that has been quite hotly debated in many circles; one train of thought is that readers become attached to a single character and to kill them off is like ripping the heart out of that persons reading pleasure. Another train of thought is that killing off a, or the, main character(s) generates an emotional response that pushes the reader on. 

An extremely good example of a third train of thought is seen in the very latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens).

******* SPOILER ALERT!! ******

One of the problems with being an author is that I find myself analysing the 'plot', the attention to detail and any glaringly obvious errors - in 'The Force Awakens' there are plenty! To me this film is all about setting up the future franchises; there will be a stream of new Star Wars films I'm sure - but I won't be going to the cinema to watch them. Looking at some obvious time line indicators it is a minimum of twenty-five years gone by, the years have not been overly kind to some of the major human characters and it is quite obvious that Han Solo and Princess Leia aren't moving with the same agility as they once did; they certainly aren't as nimble as they once were - who is at their age?! So, in order for the franchise to continue making he films under the 'Star Wars' title, fresh blood needs to be introduced, whilst the old peeps need to ... well, die. It is that transitional period, "Out with the old..." etc etc. So, main characters are killed off because they have gone past their sell-by date, but the monetary aspect of the 'Star Wars' brand is too great to end it. In my opinion, this one is just a mish-mash of plots from the previous successful releases, a sequel too far, and it doesn't work (for me).

One of the other glaringly obvious failures in this film is that the technology has not advanced. Twenty-five years later and the X-Wings, Tie Fighters and Princess Leia's hairdo are the same! It's a bit like Daniel Craig's James Bond still using a public phone box to ring 'M', or Money Penny using a typewriter as opposed to a computer - it just stands out as an error, and an opportunity missed.

Anyway, the point is that killing off main characters can also bring an extended life to a successful series - but it has to be done right!


I suppose the only advice I would offer on 'To Kill off or not to Kill off.." would be, IF it sits comfortably in the story line FOR THE RIGHT REASON!

For Invictus Part 2 I am killing off one of the characters approximately a third of the way into the story, I need to because I want to generate an emotional response from the reader that will pull them further into the 'revenge' phase. At this exact moment in time I am unsure if any of the other main characters will be sacrificed for the story line or not, but I am not overly precious when it comes to characters - if they can't positively contribute to the story in life then they are taking up page space; it can be real fun from a writers perspective, it can also be both polarizing and coalescing for the readers.

I'm looking forward to the break - I want that head space freed up so that I can get back to writing. Sometimes Indie writers just can't write because of real world issues. I've learnt that it is better to take a break than force a line or two; it just isn't worth the risk of damaging a story because someone once said "Write everyday, you must!".

Anyway, I'll be back on the page soon. My little pearl of wisdom to all wannabe authors, write because you want to, because you can and because you have the urge - not because there's a deadline looming and you got to get words onto a page. Your story is your work, and once it is out there in the real world people will judge you on it; be fair to yourself and put only your best foot forward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A simplistic snap shot of the world ... 

Firstly, I want to play a game - the following statements were made by the most powerful people and/or governments in the world. Each correct statement earns a bonus point.

Hanger 51 is a myth.

Iraq has WMD's.

I did not have sexual relations with girl!

We have not sent troops to support, and fight with, the rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

MH17 was not shot down by a Russian BUK missile.

All of those dead Russian soldiers that have been brought back from Ukraine were there on holiday.

Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone in the assassination of JFK

9/11 was a terrorist attack on the American people.

In anticipation of the long awaited report on the MH17 tragedy the Russian President releases documents that heavily implicate the American and Israeli governments in the 'attacks' on the WTC's. The published findings state quite clearly that it WAS a Russian made BUK missile that brought down the civilian aircraft. It seems a lot like the two playground bullies know 'stuff' about the other, "if you tell on me. I'm telling on you..." and they have. 

Cruise missiles aimed at targets in Syria are fired from the Caspian Sea; American Intelligence services report that four missiles fell on civilian sites in Iran, yet Iran doesn't protest or confirm it; Russia says ALL missiles achieved their targets. The only scenario that allows all parties to be telling the truth is that those four missiles were programmed to hit targets inside Iran, as requested by the Iranian government? I'm not sure if that is more unnerving that the only other conclusion - one of them is telling lies.

Let's revisit the list:

Hanger 51 is a myth. - No it isn't, the world knows this as a fact.

Iraq has WMD's. - No it hasn't (or didn't at the time).

I did not have sexual relations with girl! - Oh yes you did - fact!

We have not sent troops to support, and fight with, the rebels in Eastern Ukraine. - Oh yes you have - fact.

MH17 was not shot down by a Russian BUK missile. - Oh yes it was - fact

All of those dead Russian soldiers that have been brought back from Ukraine were there on holiday. - Really, and they all took their company vehicles with them?! Wrong - fact

Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone in the assassination of JFK - Oh no he didn't - fact

9/11 was a terrorist attack on the American people. - Oh dear, no points here either.

So, based on the above examples, who can you trust? Who should you trust? I'm only posing the question - the answer has to be an individual choice.

And now there is a new dilemma - I.S - suddenly this group are responsible for a global shift in demographics and power. A Trojan Horse of refugees, the destabilizing of stocks and shares, and the sickening rise of extreme racism - all selectively brought to us through the power and control of the internet - is a very dangerous (but tactically genius) contrived offensive. It's not that we're too trusting, it's that we are so consumed with our own little world that we've ignored the big picture ... is it too late? Dunno, I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The anniversary of 9/11- Fourteen years ago I, like so many, was glued to national TV as the singular most horrendous slaughter unfolded in front of my eyes; the attacks on the World Trade Centre in NY. As I drove home yesterday I listened to an American radio station interview with woman, a former cabin crew member, and she had some very valid points to make over the downing of those towers. Actually, to be more exact, some experience based factual observations that raise yet more questions. I have to confess that I have long suspected the 'truth' regarding that terrible human tragedy is a long walk away from the story being told by the Government. I certainly don't consider myself a 'Conspiracy theorist, raging fruit-bat' type of guy, it's just that I like to question things. In my humble opinion there is sufficient evidence to at least warrant thought, consideration to the possibility that it was a domestic act of deliberate destruction. To do that you have to get over the biggest hurdle of all - you have to allow yourself to acknowledge that there are real people out there that could be this evil, and that is a terrible admission.

It is not that the 'coincidences' prove that it was a merciless act of domestic origin ... they don't: But there are enough to heavily suggest that we are not being told the truth. There are enough 'coincidences' to make the dumbest of dumb question the odds - unfortunately, there are none so blind as those that will not see. 
I watched the footage of people jumping from the towers to absolute certain death, the endless processions of funeral vehicles carrying the bodies of firemen, police and paramedics, servants of New York City that gave their lives; I can understand why the very thought of it being a domestically orchestrated event is incomprehensible, I really do. At the very least indulge me for a few minutes, this is not a theory on who did it, or why, it is much worse than that!

If the Air Hostess turned Author is to be believed then the planes that hit the 2 towers were not the same type of aircraft that they represented. A plausible explanation around the misfortune of the actual passenger aircraft is offered, and a further link between the cause and certain company owners is uncovered. There were 'War Games' going on, the huge delay of the intercept aircraft being scrambled, the number of people that didn't turn up to work that day, WTC 7, nano-thermites, the list goes on and on. IF (and it is a massive 'if'), but IF half of what is coming to light proves to have a basis, just how many people have knowingly contributed to this mass murder? And it is that that shocks me to the core. Could it really be that there are that many people that can keep their participation quiet? If an author wrote a story portraying that level of intricate planning and that many people, it would be deemed implausible, a fantasy novel, Though let's not forget the saying "Fact can be stranger than fiction."
There are a couple of things in play here; an arrogance that people will simply believe what they are told, and the belief that most people are just too damn lazy to employ original thought. For those that aren't aware, there is also the UK live news report announcing the fall of WTC 7 whilst the actual building stood intact behind her for a further 15-20 minutes.

And on the subject of weird and wonderful, or at least weird, - this isn't a compilation of various reports, charts, rumours or propaganda, this is absolute fact, seen with my own two eyes. Last year MH17 was shot out of the sky by a missile. How do we know this? Because there was a missile casing lying alongside the wreckage in the first reports shown on tv here in New Zealand. It was between 6 and 7 in the morning, I was watching the report on our flat screen television as I walked towards the patio doors. The female presenter was narrating, telling the country that there were suspicions the plane had been shot down by a missile. Her male colleague watched the footage, at the end of it laughing mockingly at the narrative, "Possibly shot down by a missile, how can they say that, look ... rerun the clip, can we see that again, you could see the missile.." he scoffed. The clip that was shown again was not the same clip, it had been reduced in length, the missile chassis part was not part of the edited rerun. I have searched the internet for the original footage with no joy - can someone really make that disappear? It seems so, which should make everybody realize the frightening prospect that there are some very serious people out there, with very serious agenda's and we, the common folk, are just disposable mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed on s@#t. 

Going back to that American radio interview, the lady in question was at a secret location, she truly feared a 'drone strike' on her house so had moved ... her fear was real, you could tell in her voice. 
Radio interview Rebekah Roth (it's a couple of hours long but worth it)

Anyway, whilst this body of super powerful, totally messed up individuals decide the fate of the human race I shall keep writing my story's. I'm keen to see if fiction can match the truth.

AJ Wilson on the web

Saturday, September 5, 2015

It is time to move on...

From the very beginning 'Wilsons Way' has been about recording and sharing some of my own experiences, thoughts and lessons since first sitting down to write Russian Redemption. It has been 100% honest, which is to say I have shared the good and the bad of the journey, and that I have made mistakes - I'm calling that bit 'being human'.

The journey (for me) is all about improvement - and to be fair I have a lot of ground to make up here; my secondary school education hardly compares to the more specialist creative writing degrees, English Lit Majors or the likes that most big-time authors seem to have. However, that is why I use an editor, proofreader and publisher... she does have the qualifications! So, for me it is more about story telling. Looking back over the three years I've been writing I would hope that Judi (Santel Publishing) has seen a marked improvement in my 'skills' and/or development because I've probably spent just as much time reading other peoples blogs, posts, books and articles, as I have actually writing. And, those that stand out for me, those that I believe are valuable to new writers/Authors. I'll bring here - and here is another one for you:- Chuck Wendig's blog 'Terrible minds', in particular:

I should warn you that Chuck has a colourful vocabulary, but this article makes a whole lot of sense, or at least it did to me. It's been a bit of a barometer so far as my author growth is concerned (and I think I'm doing OK), but being who he is, makes it kind of better than OK, a bit more than just heading in the right direction - almost a motivational pat on the back. Even more than Stephen Kings list did!

This is not a case of hero worship; I don't know that much about Chuck to be honest. This is more a case of being able to identify with a skilled and successful author, and seeing a lot of similarities in the thinking; in other words it would appear that I ain't doing too much wrong. 

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I've made the decision to back myself. Proof reading, editing and publishing, cover design, and all that stuff is not cheap, we've already covered that off, but it is something that I absolutely believe HAS to happen. The thought of putting a book out on the internet without those processes is a thought that I refuse to entertain. And to be honest the old adage about peanuts and monkey's does ring very true in all of them. So, like I said - 'Its time to back myself.' 

Up to now it has been a case of chipping away at the financials when a few bucks becomes spare, but it's time to change that. So it is time to downgrade the car to free up some money and bet on myself. WiP 6 - 'Elementals' -is back from Judi after the first edit, WiP 7 - Ariana's Law - is in the final stages of rewrite in preparation to send to Judi for its first scrutiny. So, by early 2016 I will have 5 stories published with a further 5 or 6 in various stages of development. They cross a variety of genres so there should definitely be something for everybody, and it is time to take that to market. I'm going to be sharing the idea's, options, successes and failures over the coming weeks and months but I'm starting with this:

Do one thing EVERY day to build awareness. This can be anything; facebook post, blog post, share a link, send a tweet, even just talk to one real person about the stories that I write - maybe I should get some business cards made up???

Today's one thing is this introduction to what I am doing, and why. More than happy to hear your feedback:-

AJWilson on Facebook.

AJWilson website (for book links and a look at what's being said.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - some serious teething issues?

A while back I was shouting the praises of, a website for readers and authors, where reviews are exchanged anonymously, the basic premise being that if you (the author) want reviews then you also have to give back by reading and reviewing other books - I still like the idea, it's simple and fair. Of course it is open to abuse, as is just about everything on the internet, but it's early days yet, and I think the road-map is both ambitious and has potential.

However, (as opposed to 'but'.) there are some issues with it's functionality that you need to be aware of if you are going to use this site:

1. The format that you submit your manuscript in. This is not an problem exclusive to Bookvetter, as I had the same issue with an Amazon submission, Somewhere between uploading a Pdf and it arriving on the site, there seems to be a glitch where-by double lettered words lose a letter - 'all' becomes 'al', 'filling' becomes 'filing' and 'call' becomes 'cal'. but only on certain devices.

2, Talking of 'certain' devices; gone are the day's where a book was read purely on paper. The birth of the e-book was a massive evolution; the use of modern technology take affordable reading to the masses should not be under estimated. But 'technology' is advancing at an unbelievable rate, now people are reading books on kindle, laptops, ipad, mobile phones - and on and on... The problem here though is the PDF does not transpose well across these different devices, the formatting goes haywire.

Six reviews:
Perfect  2
Amatuer  4
Unacceptable  0

Acceptable  4
Moderate  1
Unsatisfactory  1

This in turn leads to some dissatisfied readers!

If someone can come up with a standard format for both upload and read (regardless of device) then there is money to be made. From an authors perspective it is not good news in the current model, unwittingly exposing readers to a substandard experience goes a long way to tainting a reputation, something one can ill afford in such a cut throat market.


Should the book have been published?
Exceptional 1
Average 3
No  2

I still think has a positive future, I am just concerned about the damage that can be done in the short term.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The mood of writing -

Seeing as I'm the only Author I know, or at least the only Author I know well, I have no idea if this is normal or not, but I find  the mood of the writing dictates the mood of the household, and vice-versa. (I just know that there are people reading this and slapping their foreheads, or maybe a face palm. 'Of course numb-nuts!'.)

Russian Redemption was my first book so every experience was new to me; I didn't even realize a lot of what was going on at the time, it was only afterwards that things became apparent. 

And there were time when writing specific sections of Russian Redemption effected my own mood, and ultimately the mood of the household. By stark contrast, the unabated fun and carefree ambience generated whilst writing a YA story, Elementals, was brilliant for the whole family -  and, knowing this, I wonder why the wife has never suggested I write a FSoG...!!

It's a two-way relationship though, the writing can influence the mood, and the mood can influence the writing. Work crap, outside influences, stress... you have to shake those bad boys off if you want to write to your potential. And I don't worry too much if I'm struggling to get into the proverbial zone, I just don't write that night. (Now I know there are people that say you should write everyday, but ya have to live in the real world sometimes eh, even though it sucks.) 

As stated previously, I don't feel the need to be alone and in silence when writing, I am capable of shutting out the outside world. I even find that a little background noise can be quite comforting.

It is also always the case that when somebody gives an opinion on the internet, there is going to be someone that completely disagrees with the above - and that's fine, honest.

I don't consider myself to be an exceptional author of modern works of art, I confess that my diction is not equal to some, but I don't write books. The best way that I would describe me is someone that tells stories and puts them into words. Are they one and the same? I don't think so.

Side Note - my latest project (temporarily known as Ariana's Law) - is at 53,000 words, I'm quite pleased with that in month one.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stephen King tells the secrets - Part 2...

I thought I'd bored you enough in the first one but for those that are just a gluten for punishment, and want to read the other ten, here they are...

(The full story is available on the Barnes and Noble blog below)

11. There are two secrets to success. “When I’m asked for ‘the secret of my success’ (an absurd idea, that, but impossible to get away from), I sometimes say there are two: I stayed physically healthy, and I stayed married. It’s a good answer because it makes the question go away, and because there is an element of truth in it. The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anyone else has made the continuity of my working life possible. And I believe the converse is also true: that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home life.”

I think this is a good insight, especially for authors where writing is not their primary income. To be able to spend a day at the office, come home and spend hours writing is only possible if the family support you as a writer. However, a warning - don't loose track of the fact that you have a family!
12. Write one word at a time. “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

I'm not signing up to this one in its entirety although I see the point that he is trying to make. There is nothing worse than being submerged in the plot, living it so you can capture the essence, and being hauled out of your 'special place' by an annoying distraction. Me, personally, I find silence unnerving at times, my brain seems to work better with a little background noise to the point where I don't actually hear it but take comfort in knowing that it is there.
14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem. You can’t aim a book like a cruise missile, in other words. People who decide to make a fortune writing lik John Grisham or Tom Clancy produce nothing but pale imitations, by and large, because vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart.”

Yup - absolutely agree, enough said.
15. Dig. “When, during the course of an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn’t believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”

Hmmm, a modern take on the old adage "stories come from within" - can't argue that one.
16. Take a break. “If you’ve never done it before, you’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings that it is to kill your own.”

As mentioned earlier, the first draft is complete within 3 months. Now you have to switch from writer to reader; the whole book made sense to you when you were writing it, now you have to give time for the writers thoughts to leave the mind, and the reader steps in. As Mr King says, this can be a truly inspirational phase, and one I always find enjoyable (don't be afraid to pat yourself on the back either!)
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your ecgocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

The darling killer - If, as a writer, you have done your job properly, your 'darlings' will be the readers 'darlings' too, so killing them off can be an emotional experience for all parties concerned. I'd probably word this slightly differently to Mr King - Don't be afraid to kill your darlings off. As for leaving out the boring bits - I concur - but it's what I think is boring.
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you’re learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.”

I am someone that does research the crap out of the subject mater, all in the name of plausibility, but I try and keep it quite subtle. In my current WiP there are a few scenes set on the Harvard Uni campus back in 1986/87 - I'm British, living in New Zealand, and have never been to Harvard. However, I have no doubt that some of my readers have so I have to make it believable. The research is fun, and the fact that very few (if any) care is neither here nor there: In the story "the lift opens" - big deal - but to make something as simple as that plausible you need to understand that there were only three high rise accommodation blocks at that time, and the lifts ONLY stopped on specific floors so my characters accommodation had to be on one of those floors or they would have to use the stairs to go up or down a floor to catch the lift! Plot Fail! That said, I take on board the point that Fiction is not a documentary; information overload leads to DNR.
19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

Could not agree more!
20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
Again, totally agree with this. Going back to one of the earlier answer, write for yourself first, embrace and enjoy the experience - if you can't do that then I would suggest a new vocation be sought. Very very few authors make it big, you need money behind you or a huge stroke of luck. So, if you are writing to get rich (or any of the other options Stephen King offers) then your motivation is all wrong, and your disappointments are almost guaranteed. write for yourself, for your own satisfaction, joy and well being and see what happens.

To repeat the top bit - if you do want to read the whole article it is on the Barns and Noble blog: