S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Category: Self-Publishing (page 2 of 2)

What I really think of… Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey’s Wool

‘The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do. While they thundered about frantically above, Holston took his time, each step methodical and ponderous, as he wound his way around the spiral staircase, old boots ringing out on metal treads.’

So begins Hugh Howey’s first novella in his blockbuster Silo series, Wool.

I can’t exactly remember when I first heard about this guy, Hugh Howey, but I do remember his name popping up all over twitter and blogs, and I thought “Hell, I’ll give this guy a go.” At 99c for his first novella, Wool, it was a pretty good bargain, and having received my first kindle for Christmas 2011, I was looking for cheap books to fill it. 

I read that first book in one sitting then immediately downloaded the second part (“Proper Gauge”) and then the third one (“Casting Off”). I remember staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish “Casting Off”, and making myself wait until the next morning to download the final two in the series “The Unraveling” and “The Stranded”. 

Briefly, the Silo series is set in an apocalyptic world, where humans live underground in huge silos 144 stories below the ground. It’s set in a time when no-one can remember what happened on the outside, and no-one questions why they live the way they do. 

That is, until Jules comes along. Jules is a mechanic from the Down Deep, the very bottom levels of the silo, where she works to keep the machinery of the silo functioning. Needing a new sheriff after the tragedy that is Holston’s death (which is so hauntingly written in Wool 1), Jules is the one who steps up (albeit reluctantly). Her curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to question everything she has ever been told about the history of the silo and the circumstances of their existence. Wool 2-5 follows Jules’ story – the consequences of questioning long-held beliefs, and the lengths that some will go to to protect the status quo.

The reason I love these books so much is that they focus on something that is a real problem in our own time – taking what we see for granted, and living our lives through computer screens. We listen to politicians and the media and assume that what they tell us is the truth. We have no real desire to do the hard work and find information for ourselves. We form opinions on someone else’s view of the world, instead of seeing it for ourselves.

I know from reading interviews of Hugh that those were major factors in his desire to write this series. 

I came away from that first series feeling like I needed to be more involved in the world around me; to take a more proactive role in my own life, instead of sitting back and letting it happen. 

For any of my teacher friends out there, if you’re looking for books to spark discussions with students, these are the books to read. 

On a slightly different tangent, Hugh is also a shining light for those of us looking to self-publish our own stories. Hugh began with a small publisher with his first Molly Fyde book (Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue), a YA science fiction novel, and quickly learned that he could do a lot of the publishing side of things himself. 

So he did.

The popularity of his Silo series made bigger publishers and agents sit up and take notice, and he made history when he signed a print only deal with Simon and Schuster, enabling him to keep his digital (ebook) rights.

This is extremely significant, because traditionally, contracts from publishers effectively restrict authors from writing and publishing anything that is seen to be in competition to the books they’ve sold, which really means everything that comes after.

I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of how that deal will hopefully help to change the publishing industry in the long term, and how they treat their authors, but suffice it to say, it’s a small step in the right direction.

There is so much more I can say about Hugh Howey and the effect he’s had on the self- and indie-publishing industries and authors, but I will leave the other stuff for another post.

The last thing I will say is BUY HIS BOOKS! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

You can find Hugh here:

Hugh Howey

Buy his books from Amazon (or order the paper copies of his books from your local bookstore):

Hugh’s Amazon Author Page

You can find out more about his Wool series at Simon and Schuster here:

Wool Series

What non-writers need to know about writers

This post is going out to all my non-writer friends and family, and is a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek list of things you should know about writers. There is a grain of truth to all of them, and of course, this list is incomplete, only because it’s based on my experiences as a writer, and not writers in general.

1. Any conversation you have with us, or event that you share with us, may be used in a story at any time in the future. Of course, names will be changed to protect the guilty, and it will be embellished to within an inch of its life.

2. We may have based a character on you, but it’t not the one you think. And no, we won’t tell you which one it is.

3. When you ask us how our book is going, and we reply with “which one?” we are only half joking. We flit between WIPs like an ADD kid on a sugar high.

4. Our writing time is precious. It comes in a close second to procrastinating on the internet researching.

5. Theoretically, it takes next to no time to write a book, based on words per hour. It’s finding the right words that take up all of our time.

6. The three essential food groups for a writer are caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Sometimes all at once.

7. We will meticulously set up our study/writing space, only to end up writing on the laptop on the lounge, or spread our paperwork out on the dining table. Creativity cannot be restrained.

8. The only time we’re happy to do the housework is when we’re on a deadline with a book.

9. We will take notes anywhere and everywhere – on napkins, receipts, popcorn containers and on our hands when necessary. It is quite normal for us to wake at 3am, write a few lines, and go back to sleep like nothing ever happened.

10. We are always writing, even when we’re taking part in an activity that looks like it has nothing to do with our work. Staring in to space is plotting, and watching TV or a movie is research.

And a bonus:

11. We love social media. Writing is most often a solitary pursuit, so we use facebook, twitter and whatever new sites and apps are available to keep in touch with the “real world”. Having said that, if you see us pop up too often, ask us sternly “Why aren’t you writing?”

Have I missed anything? Feel free to add to my list in the comments.

What Pad?

Wattpad is one of my most recent online discoveries when I was procrastinating researching ways to find an audience.

 

I’m an unknown author, and in this new world of Anyone Can Publish, being unknown is a huge problem. What’s also a problem is building an audience for your books from scratch. I’ve read a lot of authors who are very active on a LOT of sites and forums that have subject matter similar to their book themes, but I think this really only works with particular genres. Sci-fi is one that comes to mind as is Steampunk. 

 

I’m not active on those types of sites, and I don’t have the time or inclination to be active on them either. Though I am working on a steampunk idea and I love the fiction genre, I’m not into the steampunk movement, where people don costumes and assume characters and build their own weapons etc. I’m fascinated by it of course, and I love seeing some of the innovations and ideas people come up with, but apart from using those things as research and inspiration, I don’t go much past that.

 

I’m on twitter, but not as active as what I probably could be. I have a facebook page, but it’s my personal space. I do have an author page I set up about a year ago, but I haven’t made it public, and I’m not sure if I will or not. I also have this blog, which I am terrible at keeping a regular schedule for. I want to get better at that, but at the moment, writing fiction is taking precedent.

 

I also read a lot of writing blogs and author blogs and a lot of them have articles on what they’ve done to build their audiences and buzz for their books. I know that works for someone else may not necessarily work for me, but I think I have managed to work out how I want to go about getting my books out into the world and earning their keep.

That’s where Wattpad comes in.

Wattpad allows writers/authors of all levels to provide free content to millions of readers around the world. Stories of any length and genre are uploaded in short chunks (chapters or scenes), and readers get the chance to vote for their favourites and make comments on the work. The thing I like is that it gives authors the chance to interact directly with their readership, which is much more personal than a blog.

Some articles I’ve read have worried that if you provide your content for free on a site like Wattpad, readers will become accustomed to free content and not want to pay, but a lot of authors who have used the site share a different experience. In fact, I’ve only just signed up to Wattpad, and added a few stories to my reading shelf, but have already downloaded (paid for) one author’s books from kindle after reading the first in the series or free. I could have just read all his stories on Wattpad for free, but I was so excited by his work I downloaded the next two stories he’d written in the series to my kindle straight away.

I’ve also commented on a few of the chapters for other writers, and have started to make some connections. I imagine they will grow when I put my own work up on the site.

Which brings me to some news. My birthday is at the end of this month, and the blog turns two in a couple of weeks. I’ve been writing for a long time, and finally have a few things written (90% or so ready to go to beta readers) that I’m happy with and think would be perfect to try out on Wattpad.

This Sunday (March 31st), I’ll be posting the first chapter of one of my short novels (still a work in progress) on the Wattpad site. You can read the first chapter of it (and any other stories posted on there) without signing up. If you want to read more though and vote and make comments (which I hope you do), you’ll need to sign up for a free account.

The thing I really like about the way Wattpad works is that on top of the website, they have android and iMachine apps, so you can keep up to date and read on the go, or while waiting for an appointment. Each chunk is designed to be read quickly, so you don’t need to invest a lot of time in one go to read a story.

Best of all, they’re free, and you get the chance to discover new authors, and try out new genres, without having to invest any of your hard-earned.

I’ll post the link to the first chapter upload on facebook, twitter and here on the blog. Feel free to pass the link on to anyone you think might enjoy it.
 
In the mean time, you can connect with me on Wattpad here.

 

 

 

Coping with change and my Big News

This change I can deal with.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Barray WANA Commons



I’m no longer big on change. I say “no longer” because I used to be all for it.

Years ago, when a club I was involved with debated whether to cut ties with our existing sports club or go in a new direction with a new sports club, I voted for change. I was all for a new start and a chance to build something new and exciting from the ground up. In hindsight, we should have looked better before we leapt, but that’s a whole other story.

Back to my point.

I now like being comfortable. I like the familiar. It’s easy. It’s known. It’s not scary. It’s safe.

When something happens to change that?

I worry. I panic. I get agitated and angry. I’ve also been known to swear. Or, in the case of TV shows, stop watching altogether. (“They’ve changed time slots again?? I’m just not going to watch any more. That will show them!” Sidenote – I really do miss Bones and Greys. Sigh.)

Sometimes, change can be sudden and unexpected.

Like last night, when we went to do our grocery shopping, we realised the shop was changing its layout. I could tell something was up as soon as I could see the toilet paper at the top end of the last aisle – it’s usually at the bottom end. (Ha ha! I didn’t know I’d made that joke until I was retyping this post.)

I was immediately on my guard. Lo and behold, the softdrinks were no longer with the chips, but with the condiments and sauces (WTF?) Thankfully, they’d left the chocolate in the same aisle as it had always been. I guess someone in management was smart enough not to change that aisle around.

After some bitching and whinging, my wife slapped me and told me to get a grip. No, not really, but I did get over it. The aisles that were finished didn’t look so cluttered and apart from having to search for a few things, the shopping trip was still relatively painless.

Some change though, is a slow burn of acceptance.

Which brings me (finally) to my Big News.

Short version: Wifey has a new job based in another town and we’re moving. (Saying that fast is like ripping off a bandaid and makes it seem easier than it is.)

Long Version: “The Plan” has always been for me to give up work and focus on my writing “at some time in the future.”

That future is fast approaching.

It’s exciting and scary and OMGWTF! all at once.

We’ve been planning this move since this time last year when Wifey landed the job temporarily. We discussed the possibility that it could become permanent which would mean a move to a small town further west.

At first I was like “no way”, but after many long nights of drinking discussion I realised what a great opportunity it is for us both career-wise.

Wifey gets the opportunity to take a higher position doing something she loves, and I finally get the opportunity to stop working for someone else and start really working on getting myself published.

What did we do to celebrate the fact that we’d be dropping to one wage? We went out and bought an investment property. Yay! (Face palm.)

Leaving aside that financial decision (it will be better for us long term, I promise Wifey!), the road to acceptance has been a long one.

The thing is, I never actually thought I’d be able to take time off of my real job to concentrate on my writing. It was always on my wish-list but never, until now, attainable.

So when the opportunity arose, I railed against it. (You did what?) I actually started talking myself out of my dream of becoming a published author, able to live off the money I make from my writing.

Stupid really, but I was scared. Scared of failing, scared of writing crap, scared of letting down everyone who supports me (even though I know they think I’m crazy). Scared of letting go of a great job with great people that brings in safe money so that we can live a luxurious comfortable life filled with holidays and shopping and paying off our mortgage.

As with all change, there’s a transition period. Right now we’re in the “Holy shit we need to finish renovating the house so someone will pay us enough money to pay out the mortgage and let us get a new car” phase.

After that will come the “I can’t believe no-one will buy our house for a gazillion dollars, it’s so worth it” phase, immediately followed by “We’ll never have another first house, ever!” phase.

Then there’s the “I NEVER want to move again” phase as we unpack and set up a new house in a new town where we know only the people Wifey works for.

But after ALL of that, will be the (hopefully) very long phase of “S R Silcox, full-time author.”

I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes.

Re-defining Failure – Writing Update

Contemplating my next move, even though I have no idea how to play chess.

Things have been quiet around here over the past few weeks, and not much writing has been done. Not for want of trying – I’ve managed to get nearly a thousand words done over my last couple of days off, but it’s not nearly as much as I was planning for this time of the year.

Couple of reasons.

Firstly, it’s tax season here Down Under, which means my day job has gone from cruisey to hectic in one fell swoop. The problem with being an accountant, especially at this time of year, is that it’s extremely hard to relax after a big day.

I wake up in the early hours of the morning after dreaming about tax issues for clients, and come up with solutions in the shower. Yeh, so not fun.

So as a matter of survival, I’m not writing from Tuesday through Friday (my work days). My brain is fried enough as it is without adding the extra burden of having to come up with a few hundred words on any number of my current WIP and then feeling guilty when those words don’t materialise.

Secondly, we’re (Wifey and I) madly trying to finish the house renovations so we can get the house on the market for a big move, which I’ll detail in an upcoming post. That has basically written off my weekends completely, since they’re currently spent sanding, painting, puttying, gardening and deciding on paint colours and working out how we’re going to dress our house up to look her absolute best when she’s finished.

The good thing about the renovating though is that it stimulates the creative side of my brain. So instead of wearing me out, while I’m doing those mundane jobs around the house, I’ve allowed my muse to sneak down the dark alleys in my brain, seeking out new and interesting characters and plot points.

So far, I’ve re-worked my YA WIP (if only in my head), which is now 40-50% complete on the first draft, and I’ve come up with two new plot twists and a new character in that same WIP which adds some spice. I’m finally happy with the direction that WIP is going in.

So much so, it’s the one I have ear-marked to concentrate on above all others to get a first draft done by the end of January. I’m more excited about that WIP than I have been about any of them in a long time.

Great for my confidence.

I’ve also been thinking about how I want to progress on this writing path I’ve chosen, and what little of the Olympics I watched has made me do a bit of soul-searching. Winning gold is a massive achievement for any athlete, but so is winning silver or bronze, and for some, just competing at the Olympics is a success.

In light of that, I’ve decided to re-define my idea of failure.

Notice I’ve chosen to redefine failure as opposed to sucess.

I don’t want to move the goal-posts I’ve set for myself with regards to what I want to achieve with my writing. I do, however, want to remove the barriers I keep coming up against (self-imposed I might add), in order to start achieving those little successes that build up into big ones.

I’ve written about my fear of failure in an earlier post. It’s always hanging around in the background, needling me into submission, making me throw my hands up in frustration and walk away from the keyboard with nothing to show for it except a blank page and an intense feeling of guilt and heartbreak. All because my current definition of failure is zero words per day.

But no more.

My new definition of failure is hating writing. If I ever get to that point, that’s when I’ve failed. If I ever get to the point where I just can’t physically make myself write one word, that’s when I step back and reconsider my options. 

Right now? I still love writing. I love the feeling of being in “the zone” when words come easily.

I also love the feeling of bleeding out a hundred or so words when they’re not so easy to come by. In some ways, I feel more triumphant on those occasions because I’ve managed to get words down in spite of  feeling tired/like crap/dragging myself kicking and screaming to the keyboard.

So the new plan, until my situation changes in a few months, is to only write on my Mondays off. Whether that’s a blog post or outlining my YA WIP, it doesn’t matter. Words are words. If I find myself with a spare hour or so during the week where my brain isn’t filled with tax stuff, I’ll work on the plot or character summaries, and also re-jig my writing plan to take my upcoming situation into account.

At the very least, I want to stay connected to my WIP so that when I have the time to work on it, I know where I’m headed. That time will come soon enough – I just need to be ready for it.

Every writing day will start with one question – “Do you hate writing?” If the answer is no, then there’s no excuses. I must write.

On that note, I’m off to work on the new scenes my muse kindly offered up to me over my morning coffee.

Don’t be a Pirate’s Wench

Back when you could tell who the real pirates were by their uniforms

I went to Target the other day to buy some new balls for my dogs. As I walked out of the store, a thought occurred to me. I’d just paid five bucks for two small pieces of round rubber that my dogs would more than likely kill by the end of the week. Granted, they did have smiley faces on them, and they were “high bounce” ones, which they love, but still.

That same five dollars could have bought me lunch at one of the many fast-food places in the shopping centre.

It could have bought me two chocolates from the charity box at work, with the added bonus of going to a good cause.

That lazy five bucks could also have bought me five books for my kindle, with a couple of cents change.

Why am I telling you this? Because everything has a value, and value is in the eye of the buyer.

When I want to buy something, I research it. I price-check and compare. If I don’t think it’s worth whatever the asking price is, I don’t buy it. Simple as that really.
Why is digital content any different?

It seems no matter who you talk to, they’ve either downloaded content illegally, or know someone who has. Most times, they often don’t see what the problem is. They might feel a bit “naughty” about it, but that’s it.

Arguments range from “the musicians are rich enough as it is, they’re not missing any money”, to “I wouldn’t have bought it anyway”. Or “I’ve discovered lots of bands/authors by downloading pirated versions of their work, and downloaded the rest of their stuff legally.”

These are excuses. They’re borne from having very little or no connection with the people they hurt. Let’s forget about mega-famous artists like Pink, or Madonna, or Bon Jovi. Let’s also forget about big-name authors like Stephen King, Stephanie Myer and JK Rowling. And let’s forget about Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg.

Let’s forget about all those famous names for a moment, and think about people like me. Writers whose sole ambition is to publish books for people to read and enjoy. Writers, artists and musicians who work hard for years, even decades, to make enough money to quit their day jobs and work on their passions full-time.
(FYI – only a very minute percentage get to do that)

 

How would they ever be able to contemplate that if people like you don’t see enough value in their hard work to pay 99c for an e-book, $1.69 for a song, or $10 for a movie?

Look, I buy books from the bargain table all the time. I’ve also downloaded a number of free books on the kindle from authors I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I get the “value to entertainment ratio”, because on top of being a writer, I’m also a consumer.

The thing is, when you download a pirated version, you take the power away from the creator of that music, book or movie to offer it for free in the first place. It’s rare these days for those of us starting out to not offer something for free. It’s a great marketing ploy. But it’s within our own control to do it.

It’s also well within our rights as artists to expect something in return for our efforts.

You know me. You know what this writing gig means to me. You know how hard I work to make this my full time career. Would you have me working for nothing? Would you have me effectively waste all those years, slogging away at a keyboard, trying to learn my craft in order to produce something I think someone might want to read and enjoy?

Do you value me, and my work, so little that you would choose pirated over paying me a small amount of money in appreciation for my efforts at entertaining you?

All those big names I mentioned earlier? They all started in complete obscurity, working hard until they got that one role, produced that one song, or wrote that one book, that broke them away from the millions of others they were competing against. The money, fame and accolades are fair pay for all their struggles to get to where they are.

There’s no such thing as an over night sensation, but it’s what most of us are working our arses off to achieve.

And those little yellow bouncy balls? They’re still going strong – for now – and they’re giving me, and my dogs, a lot more value than a cheeseburger or a couple of chocolates would have.

Photo by ~Sincere Stock~

Tricking the Muse

Up until recently, I’ve really been struggling with my writing. I’ve been concentrating on my “Self-Publish or Die” five-year writing plan and the business side of things, and haven’t been working too hard on the actual writing side. Which is stupid really, since I can’t publish if I don’t write.

My brain has been ticking over with plot-based thoughts, doing random character surveys, and working on settings – all in my subconscious mind, yes, and it is technically working. I’m just struggling getting words on the page.

Anyway, I hit upon a way to take the plot forward on one of my WIPs the other day, and I now have a clean, stream-lined plot-plan that I am taking no notice of whatsoever. Hey, it’s there so at least I can’t get too far off track.

Part of my problem has been prioritising other things over my writing. One of the first lines in my new “Self-publish or Die” writing plan is “My writing time takes precedence, unless someone in my immediate family is dead or dying. And even then, the funeral will be at my convenience”. I haven’t really written that last line down, but you get the point.

After wrestling with my Muse and my schedule for the better part of a month, I finally sat myself down and just made myself write. Which was the most painful thing I have ever done. I’ve broken bones and dislocated joints and even they weren’t as painful. But I did it. I managed to squeeze out 200 words on last year’s Nano novel in just under 3 hours. Just for something to do.

And while I was forcing my fingers to type out those 200 words, a funny thing happened. My Muse thought it would be amusing to sabotage my forced creativity – by thinking about the WIP I actually wanted to work on.

I continued on with my fingers’ forced march across the keyboard, all the while not acknowledging that I could hear my Muse snickering in the background. Oh she thought she was funny, trying to distract me, but I forged on, determined not to let her get the better of me.

Until she gave me something I couldn’t ignore. She gave me the answer to a plot hole the size of China – for the WIP I wanted to work on. My fingers stopped typing and my Muse cackled with laughter. She laughed so hard until I smiled and said “Thanks. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been hiding.”

I opened a shiny new word document and re-wrote an entire chapter from off the top of my head, slipping in the subtle changes my Muse was pestering me with earlier. I wrote an entirely new beginning for that WIP, in the tone I had been desperately trying to portray, and I even wrote a whole new chapter that took the plot in a completely different, yet exciting, direction I never dreamed it could go.

Moral of the story – my Muse is a trickster, and if I ignore her, she does wonderful things without even trying.
What about you? How do you trick your muse?

Pick a Label, Any Label – Labelling Our Books

There’s a big discussion going on over at Rachelle Gardner’s blog at the moment (one of the many I currently cyber-stalk but have yet to post comment on), and it’s something I have started to think about since re-working my long-term writing plan.

One of the things I have learned about self-publishing from various sources is to make sure I know my audience. It’s one of the big reasons I want to re-jig my blog so that I start tailoring posts to my readers. Yeh, I’m still struggling with the concept that it’s not all about me, but I’m getting there.

The post poses the question “Should We Label Christian Fiction?” and the comments section has been abuzz with arguments both for and against.

It’s come about because (apparently) a few reviewers and readers have posted 1-star ratings and some not-so-nice reviews on christian books because they feel duped. For whatever reason, they didn’t get the book they thought they paid for, and/or the fact that it wasn’t clear from the blurb that there were christian themes.

I don’t like seeing reviews like that, and I think there should be an option to give a review without a star-rating if you read a book that disappoints because of content rather than ability.

Anyway, a few comments on the post took me by surprise. A few commentors are of the opinion that it’s almost an attack on their christianity if they should have to label their work as such, and they feel they’d miss out on sales, or that people would miss out on reading those books because of a label.

I tend to disagree. I’ll tell you why.

I write lesbian fiction. I also write young adult fiction, some of which has, and will have, lesbian/gay themes, while others will not. I fully intend on labelling my books as lesbian, if that’s what they are.

Why?

Because I want to reach the right readers. I don’t want to get 1-star reviews for my work simply because a reader doesn’t like the fact that my main characters are lesbian and it offends their morals or sensibilities, and I neglected to warn them in the first place. Those readers are not part of my audience.

Some writers (and I was one of them until I was shown the light) mistakenly believe that we need to get our work to the masses; to get as many people reading our prose as possible. While this is a noble dream, it’s not reality.

Sure, some books will transcend genre, but I think that will only happen if the book has universal themes and only after it finds its true niche in the first place.

I think the most interesting question though is where the line is drawn. When should we consider labelling a book such as christian fiction?

I think the line is quite an easy one. If you’re a christian writer, coming from a christian view-point, but the main theme of your book isn’t based around faith (ie your main character has a strong faith but the overriding theme of the book is, for example, finding love that is NOT based on finding God), or you have other universal themes that resonate with readers, then it’s not christian. In other words, if you stripped away the christian aspect of a character, would it make a huge difference to the way the book works?

I’ve read books like that, and I haven’t felt duped at all. Why? Because the character had other traits that I found fascinating or could relate to.

However, if your main theme is based on faith – having it, losing it, keeping it, finding it – and without that theme your book would be a shadow of itself, then it’s christian.

People like me who read books like that sometimes feel like we’re being hit over the head with faith, and that annoys me. You shouldn’t be worried about that because I’m not your audience. I’m not going to buy more of your books because I know I won’t like them.

And there’s the rub. Not everyone’s going to like your book. That’s not necessarily an indictment on your ability as an author, it just means that you need to work out where your book sits on the virtual bookshelf.

Give readers good information about your books, and they’ll decide for themselves if they want to buy them or not. They’ll thank you for it with great reviews.

Afterall, isn’t it better to label your books effectively in order to find the people who will like your work, rather than take a risk on people who won’t?

Sunday Sesh #18 – New Year’s Double-down

Since last Sunday was a dry sesh because of Christmas, this weekend is a double-down. That’s right – two beers in one Sesh. Incidentally, Christmas wasn’t exactly “dry”, as much as I just never got the chance to write about the beers I drank while I was home. So anyway, here are the first two beers of the New Year.

First off the rank is a Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale.

Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale

This one is a big brew, and there’s not much pale about it. It’s a dark golden colour, smelling fruity and citrusy – fresh enough for summer.

It’s got some big flavours but it’s not overwhelming as you might expect. There’s a bitterness that lasts a little while, but it’s not too over-powering. They say to have this with roast meats, but I accompanied my beer with a rump steak and veg. It went down quite nicely and suited the steak well.

I will have this one again, but it won’te become one of my regulars.

The second of today’s beers is from James Squire – Stow Away IPA (India Pale Ale) – quite appropriate since we’re hosting a four test series against them this summer, but I digress.

James Squire Stow Away IPA

This also pours quite well, with a frothy but light head. You can see the big difference in these two is the carbonation, but they’re almost identical in colour.

The IPA is drier and has a lot stronger bitterness in the aftertaste. It’s not too bad though, and I could have a couple of these on a hot day. It also smells a bit like potpourri out of the bottle, as well as wet paper – doesn’t make sense to me either, but that’s what I could smell.

I prefer the Alpha over the IPA, but I wouldn’t say no to either of them if they were offered.

Today’s sesh marks the first day of 2012. New Year is normally when most of us take stock of what we’ve done with the last year and in particular, how we’re going to lose the weight we’ve gained over the Festive Season.

I plan on having a big year in 2012, but I’m not one to make resolutions. I think they’re a fast way to failure. I do, however, believe in goal-setting – something I’ve been lacking over the past year or so. I’ve been coasting a little, going with the flow and seeing where it takes me. It hasn’t been too bad this last year, but 2012 is the year I take the wheel back and start to steer for myself.

The one thing I do want to get done is a revision of my writing plan. I wrote one at the start of last year that more or less just said that I wanted to prioritise my writing. I managed to do that more than I have in previous years, but this year it will go further. One of the major changes will be to set a writing schedule, and stick to it.

I will also start introducing myself to people as a “writer” instead of an “accountant”. At some point, I’m hoping that my brain starts to believe it and allows me to start acting like a writer instead of an accountant – not that being an accountant is a bad thing, but it’s just not what I want to be when I grow up.

I’m excited about being a writer this year instead of an accountant, and I’m excited about what I hope to achieve. One of the last things I did in 2011 (oh so far away now) was to go through my ideas – books, notes, napkins, post-its etc – and write them down on note-cards. Some of them have working titles, others just start with “The one about…”. I’ve added short synopses on each of them so I know what they’re about, and because of that, I feel a bit more organised already.

The other thing I realised is that I can no longer tell anyone I don’t have any ideas. I actually have 18 of them. That’s 18 novels that are waiting to be written. It blew me away when I realised, and the thing is, I only wrote down the ones that had “formed” to a point where I had a couple of characters, plot points and a general idea. I have a tonne of other ideas that are still percolating in the furthest reaches of my brain. The other thing is, a couple of those ideas are looking more and more like they could be great as series, so who knows how many books 18 ideas can turn into.

With that in mind, and safe in the thought that at any time I feel I can’t write anything I can just pull out a new note-card and start working on something different, I’m heading into 2012 with renewed vigour and energy,and particularly, enthusiasm, for my writing.

Blog-wise, I’m still pottering along trying to balance what I want to write about and writing about a lot less on “me”. There’ll be a few changes – not least of which when Summer is over, there will be no more Sunday Sesh’s, but I’m kicking around a few ideas to take its place over the colder months – perhaps reviewing coffee in the local cafes, or even better, the hot chocolates.

I’m also looking at blogging more on writing and my journey, almost as a journal, and I definitely want to include more extracts so you can see what I’ve been working on.

I’m also considering a weekly post on something topical – politics, scandals, something to get passionate about. I’ve enjoyed writing about gay marriage this year, not least of which because it affects me directly, but also because I’m passionate about it. I’m passionate about a lot of other things though, and I want to step side-ways a little and post more on the things that make me cringe, face-palm, laugh-out-loud, and yell at the television.

Apart from that, there are a host of other things that I’d like to achieve this year, but rather than bore you with the details, I’ll let you go and nurse your hangovers, and if you didn’t overdo it last night, pay out on those who did.

Plus, I need to get back to renovating. We’re now on a fast-track to getting the house finished as we’re on a dead-line. As we speak, power tools are whining away in the back yard cutting timber and drilling holes for the deck. The ceiling has been fixed and patched, so my painting skills are being called on.

It will be great to get the house finally finished, but we may not get to stick around to enjoy our hard work for very long. As I said earlier, I think this year will yield big things, so stay tuned.

Happy new year, and until next Sunday’s Sesh,
Cheers!

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