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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

November 2015 Reflections

Hello Everyone,

As the dark nights draw in we thought it about time to produce another post to confirm that our writing and reading for pleasure is still carrying on five and a half years after we started in June 2010. 

After completing our target of million draft words in January 2014 writing drifted into the marsh of self-editing and restructuring until June 2015 when a new start was made on finalising GEMINI. Changing tenses and using Auto Crit to improve the text allowed completion of a revised First Gemini Story-book which we are much happier about than previous drafts of the Gemini story.

Work started this month on the Second Gemini Story-book.

A recent distraction from this task came in the form of composing a 5000 word entry for the Bridport Prize in May 2016. The idea for this coming from a read of the anthology of the entries to the 2014 Bridport prize. We thought we could do no worse and probably better than the entries in 2014. Our previous competition entries produced mixed success largely we think because the thinking of the judges is not in tune with ours. We are making an attempt to narrow the gap and the entry will be an introduction to the strange fantasy life of Henry Cross, this time with his grand daughter Daisy. Writing the story to date is continuing to prove a delight.

Since June 2014 we have contributed posts to The Independent Publishing Magazine each month up to October under the heading Writing and Reading for Pleasure. Following changes at TIPM, perhaps a change of direction is necessary although we understand our contributions are still welcome. 

We are well on target this year to have read and reviewed over 100 books including two special readings of near final drafts of fellow self publishing authors.

Good reading and writing to you all.

Douglas and Alexander

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Further on round the bend

Monday 1 June 2015 is the fifth anniversary of the Allrighters starting to write. Our thanks to all those who have helped make the last five years an interesting and enjoyable time of writing, reading, web activity and limited publishing.

Our apologies for not posting a regular update on this blog since February. Our main web activity has been concentrated on a monthly web post on the TIPM web site under the "Writing and Reading for Pleasure" heading. Click for TIPM 

Our TIPM June post annouces a change in direction in a new push to complete our million draft words and publish as e books on Amazon. On reflection, we have been in the doldrums since completion of our million words in January 2014. Some rest and reflection has been no bad thing given the relentless daily writing between June 2010 and January 2014.

Reading activity has continued over a wide range of fiction and non fiction books.

We met up with Tony Riches in Wales two weeks ago and provided a content structure for a video he has constructed for Calvin Hedley’s book Turning-Point.

Good reading and writing to you all

Douglas and Alexander

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Maybe I have turned a corner?

After reducing my medication I feel much better and more my old self assisted by red wine and verboten foods in moderation. "But you will shorten your life by doing so." I hear the medics cry. Then I feel perhaps a shorter full life is better than a long half life? Time will tell. I have started to clear out, what a soul destroying task it is too ... but all those things I have kept and keep turning over will this time have to go. It is surprising how many rolls of drafting tape, sellotape and other rolls of carpet tape etc I have accumulated when consolidated into one box. First law of clearing out is to stop buying. 

Shame also about all those great writing thoughts I managed to note down but now I read the notes ... or those where I can read my writing and think "what was all that about?"

Good news more writing this last week the best for three months after reading Alice Orr's book on loan from the library.  No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript That Sells - Hardcover – 28 May 2004

Not that going the traditional publishing route is one for me at the moment. Some comments in the book inspired me after a three month gap to dust off LOOK - NO TOUCH and write a synopsis. Amazing, I recalled all my story I last touched last June and managed to bridge a few gaps and improve the story line. Then a new starting page ... not sure if it is any better than the last one but at least I am getting back into the creative writing and editing groove. I have read somewhere writers should take a rest from time to time and based on my experience I think it is good advice.

Also working away at draft TIPM monthly posts. The bookshops topic is proving interesting but time consuming. Drafting a post for March about the actual buying and purchasing decision process. For those who have battled rejection and finally got their book in hard copy in the book shops the last stage is critical ... getting your book picked up and purchased. 

I thought I saw a note on a blog somewhere this week that the UK book readership at nearly 3,000 people per million population is higher than most other countries. Waterstones have nearly a million titles on sale in their best sellers listing. So with a UK population of some 64m that makes c 21,000 readers ... no something is wrong here.

I see Jeffrey Archer's smiling face in the national press and his dulcet tones on radio so I know he has another book out and a bonus with an announcement about another two books to come in his current series. At 74 he is still writing all by pen and pencil so hope for me yet. For successful marketing look no further. I will ring the BBC when my next book is ready for sale ... "Douglas Burcham, The Allrighters who are you / they? We do not do interviews with unknowns." Perhaps I need to do something notorious to get well known and then publish a book.

I see and chuckle about a some sample sentences from extracts from eight books competing for the Folio Prize.

"Our house was taken away on the back of a truck one afternoon in the summer of 1979." 
Miriam Toews All My Puny Sorrows

I used to think that my father had been assigned to us by the government. This was because he appeared to serve no purpose."

Akhil Sharma Family Life

Good reading and writing to you all.

Douglas and Alexander



Sunday, 25 January 2015

Update and Review of 2014 and aims for 2015

Being the 25th January it is appropriate to quote Robbie Burns – ‘The best laid plans of mice and men’  as amended by later authors.

In my case the last thing I expected in my planning for 2014 was to be seriously unwell from the end of November 2014. Nothing like this will happen to me I had assumed … oh dear. Well maybe this is an overstatement as the illness has not been the problem only the various side effects of seven pills to be taken per day afterwards. After taking no pills and poisons on a long term basis in my previous three score and ten years this has come as a shock to me and my systems. These gave me problems of being a zombie for far too much of my life during the last two months in not having either energy, inclination or clear mindedness to write much or live a life as before. All the red wine bottles also await a restart!

Hopefully I am now climbing out of the pit.

The highlights of 2014 were

  • Completion of a million draft words in January 2014 averaging 759 words a day since 1st June 2010. The major disappointment is how little physical space a million words takes up. Apparently William Shakespeare wrote just short of a million words. The million word target proved a very good method of writing and also a major distraction to being hung up on publishing. I commend having a stiff target to new writers after they make a start - my first rule of writing

  • After starting down a path of editing and converting my draft words into 18,000 word novellas at a rate of one per week I found this lacked the same spontaneity as clean sheet creative writing. Editing and restructuring and also filling in gaps for later is proving a painful process. The weekly target has not been achieved.

  • Being able to make a regular monthly post on Mick Rooney’s TIPM web site.

  • Finding editing software – the original version of Autocrit being great to use. Unfortunately, this version has now been discontinued and I am looking for others to use.

  • Continued contact with fellow writing travellers - Tony Riches, Mary Tod and Calvin Hedley. Reading draft copies of Warwick and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham by Tony and Turning Point by Calvin and making comments were a special bonus. Tony has sold very well with his e book versions.

  • Attending the Matador Self Publishing Conference and CPI Printers Experience Day were very interesting and also following these up with TIPM reports.  I followed the latter up with the visit to a local modern Litho press owned by a friend.

  • A major step forward was a decision to proceed from the spring of 2014 under the overall aim of Writing and Reading for Pleasure which has taken all pressure of publishing more off my back. This is not to say I will never publish anything more.

  • An unpublished letter about HS2 being selected by the Daily Telegraph for their 2014 book selection which meant I have at least been published by independent selection of my writing, however small, and have published something in 2014.

  • 123 reviews were posted on Amazon of books read in 2014, and books read in previous years found while browsing my own bookshelves. Read many books both fiction and non fiction about the WW2 conflict with Japan. The Prisoner List the stand out non fiction book. On Fiction Life after Life by Kate Atkinson and The Silkworm by aka J K Rowling proved great reads. On semi fiction based on their strong technical backgrounds Regeneration by Pat Barker and The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

Plans for 2015

My life has changed and I will have to accept this. Whether I can return to something near the energy and mind clarity levels pre November 2014 remains to be seen. At least unlike my father who was dead within three months of a similar diagnosis I have been saved by modern technology. My writing aims for 2015 are as follows.

  • Keep improving the quality of what I write. I have realised that writing like learning to sail takes a long time and learning is endless.

  • l will carry on printing off and amending draft novella versions of the 60 odd books making up the million words and additional new creative words written post January 2014.

  • I will try and publish something in 2015

  • I hope I can continue posting on TIPM each month under the Writing and Reading for Pleasure banner.

  • Putting all my hard copies, paper cuttings and electronic files in some better order looks an overwhelming task but one which is necessary

May I wish all writers and readers a successful and productive year.

Douglas and Alexander and the other fantasy Allrighters