Category Archives: publishing

Can You Write Too Much?

A lot is written and talked about writer’s block but what about the opposite? Can you write too much? I once read that Beryl Bainbridge would shut herself up in her home alone for as long as it took to write a novel, and would sometimes go months without contact with the outside world or even family. Not for me, that; a couple of hours’ concentration is enough and I make sure I factor in exercise, leisure time, household tasks, time with family and so on.

That’s not to say that if I am deeply involved with a piece of writing, I forget about it when not actually writing, obviously it is going on in the back of the mind all the time and as the text develops it can colour thought processes without the writer being even aware of it.

My problem, if it is a problem, is having so many writing projects going on at once. Like a butterfly I find it difficult to stick to one thing at a time until it is finished although I do finish everything I start. There are too many interesting subjects demanding attention. When I first started writing I would complete one piece before starting another. I found that fairly easy as I was then exploring the short story craft and poetry. Soon I branched out into writing non-fiction magazine articles but this didn’t seem quite like creative writing so I kept up with writing short fiction at the same time.

I got the novel bug after completing my MA thesis in Writing Studies for which I wrote a novella but naturally the course involved also writing theoretical papers and essays at the same time.

I love the novel form for the depth of development it permits but these long term projects can be obsessive and tedious at times. Writing something short occasionally can be liberating and refreshing. However, I’ve been writing for many years now and besides my published work I have a number of novels and short stories that still require some revision to bring them to publishable standard. I’m getting the feeling that I’m starting to clog up.

These poor works languishing on my computer waiting to see the light of day haunt me but I currently have a deadline for revisions to a novel accepted for publication next year. Revision hardly seems like creative work so I’ve a short story on the boil and also another novel which is half-written and progressing slowly through cups of  coffee in cafes to satisfy my need for some ‘real writing’.

For some years I’ve also been writing a history of my home town, part of it I have already published and now I am being asked where the rest of it is but it is a real long term labour of love. I’d like to spend more time on it but have resigned myself to allocating one day a week so that at least some progress is made, but oh dear, so much research before actually writing anything.

More of my writing time is taken up writing reviews, judging writing competitions and preparing work for writing seminars and courses I am asked to facilitate. On top of that there are now so many social media requirements, blogging, keeping my website updated, facebooking, tweeting etc. etc. and there is always the need to make time for actual networking, attending writing events and writing groups.

Is it all too much? Am I jack-of-all-trades, master of none? Maybe but I’ve grown expert at timetabling and writing to demand. Does my writing suffer – lack depth- because of my inability to concentrate on one thing? I hope not but my readers will be judges of that.

There are many different styles of writing and I guess we each have to write the person we are. Some writers are prolific and eclectic, others write slow masterpieces over long periods. I’m just one of those writers constantly distracted by a myriad ideas. Even as I’m absorbed in writing one story, I can sense something else calling, some little bit of grit in my brain, working itself into a pearl. It may be something I heard or saw years ago that has lain there gathering until at last it flaps into motion, demanding to be let out on paper.

Will all my creations see the light of day? Who knows, perhaps it doesn’t really matter.

http://www.carolfenlon.com

 

 

 

Running a giveaway competition

I just tried out another self-publishing experiment – the giveaway competition. This was organised through my publisher Feedaread. You post an extract which people are invited to read and then complete an entry form to win a free copy so it is very simple for people to do. You have to pay the cost of the prizes and postage and you choose how many copies you want to offer as prizes.I chose to run the competition for my new short story collection, Plotlands. I did quite a bit of social media advertising of the competition  over a few weeks as the entry period runs for a month. Problem is to reach people without boring them to death with constant bombardment so I tried to stagger posts/tweets etc between different media over time.I was interested to see that each time I posted something, entries resulted, though there wasn’t a huge number of entrants. I also got more views on the page I had created on Facebook specifically for the book and even a few purchases, though whether that was due to the competition or just due to word of mouth/responses to reviews buyers, I don’t know. I enjoyed monitoring the competition and finding out who had won, funnily enough it was won by someone I  know, so it was a good job I had nothing to do with the selection, which was done by Feedaread. So although I didn’t get a mega response it was a fun experience and made me feel more connected with potential readers. I’d definitely do it again and am planning to run a comp for my other short story collection in the near future.

Booktrailer fun

Well I’ve been silent on here for a bit but that’s due to lots of stuff going on with publishing and marketing my new book Plotlands,  plotlands-cover-2which is a collection of strange short stories set in Wales, and then of course everything stops for the build up to Christmas. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, mine was a good mix of meeting up with friends and family interspersed with days of quiet for rest and reflection (and tidying up of course). Even managed our usual trip out to Blackpool for fish and chips on Boxing Day.

Anyway on to the main business of the book trailer. This has been a new venture for me and has only been made possible by harnessing the techy skills of my brilliant son, Ted Fenlon and his modestly named Kraplaptop productions. He’s made other short music videos in the past and so I floated the idea of producing something promotional for Plotlands. It took quite a while for him to get the graphics right , using the book cover as the main image with accompanying rolling text and the music is his own composition and sounds suitably menacing and eerie.

I’m really pleased with the result and have been flashing it about on various social media sites – just a bit more fun than the usual book blurb. Unfortunately this page doesn’t support video files but if you’re interested you can find it on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoELiTy2qCA

Looking forward to a Happy New Year to writers and readers everywhere and much success in 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five go on a writing retreat to Builth Wells

Five members of Skelmersdale Writers’ Group, including myself went on writing retreat in two pine lodges sited on the edge of the river Wye the week before last.

This was our second retreat and it was so good I’m sure we’re going to make it an annual event. Last year there were four of us and we stayed in one lodge at Hay-on-Wye. This year there were five of us so we needed two lodges so that we could have a room each to ensure privacy to write.

We had  a routine established from the previous year that we would write all  morning, meet for lunch, then either go for  a walk in the lovely surroundings or have a trip out to one of the local towns, then more writing before sharing dinner and a few glasses of wine before having a joint feedback session  on the day’s work. We usually finished off by relaxing with a film or TV programme.

This worked very well as it is important to balance work with rest and leisure and time to think. A writing retreat is a fantastic opportunity to focus on a specific project. I took with me a completed novel that needed final editing and revision and I managed to finish that but I was also keen to do some new writing so I allocated part of each day to a partly-written novel that I  had left hanging while editing and preparing other work for publication.

We did have to cook but we managed this by joint shopping trips, taking turns to prepare meals and making simple meals so that we were all able to relax. I think we all really enjoyed it and I was pleased to come home with a briefcase full of work and plans for the future. The seven days went over so quickly. Our hosts at Boatside Holiday Accommodation were wonderful and we had everything we needed and absolute peace to get on with our work. November is an ideal time because the holiday season is over so we  more or less had this beautiful location to ourselves and the accommodation is more readily available and less expensive than earlier in the season.

I came home energised and refreshed and I can’t wait to go back again next year, perhaps even more of Skelmersdale Writers will be retreating next time!

 

 

 

 

 

First experiences with Kindle Direct Publishing

I published a short story collection with FeedaRead recently and having waited for it to appear on sale  with Amazon and other bookseller sites, I bit the bullet and published it in ebook form with KDP, choosing KDP Select, which limits your ebook to the kindle platform but pays higher royalties.

I didn’t find KDP as user friendly as FeedaRead. I got a bit confused with all the tax stuff and I think I’ve ended up agreeing to pay 30% tax on earnings rather than get something called a TIN number which I didn’t really understand. Also when I uploaded my book file I didn’t see any way of checking the uploaded content before publishing, but that may be just me getting computer overload and maybe I should have taken more time to suss it all out before doing it.

Once I’d clicked the publish button, I was informed that the book would be online in a short time but days passed with my book  status showing as ‘publishing’ with nothing happening. Eventually I emailed KDP and good enough I got a reply within 24 hours saying they would look into it and I would hear something within five days. A couple of days later I got another email telling me the book was now online but when I checked it wasn’t linked to the print version. Looking up the FAQs it said to wait 48 hours but it still didn’t link and I had to email again. KDP did then sort it out and the two were linked within 48 hours.

My main concern is that although I  uploaded the book file complete with introductory pages, dedication, contents etc. none of these have appeared in the kindle version, not even the title page. It just plunges straight in with the first story title. Apart from this I am pleased with the kindle version, it has separated the stories as I wanted so maybe there was something wrong or unacceptable about the introductory pages.

After the publication, I found it quite difficult to set up an author page as I couldn’t see how to access author central. I could only get to it by clicking on the email KDP sent me welcoming me to KDP. Eventually I discovered author central has a separate URL which I have now bookmarked. It also took me a while to find my way around the dashboard etc. but overall it’s been a satisfactory experience and definitely a learning curve.

Over the next few weeks, I expect to become more familiar with the KDP community and hope I will have solved some of these problems by the time I come to publish something else.

img336quarter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writers’ Holiday 2016

Recently returned from another wonderful week at Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard, South Wales.  I really did make a holiday of it this year, stopping overnight at Caersws on the way and visiting Powys Castle at Welshpool. The next morning I digressed to Lampeter hoping to visit the Welsh Quilt Centre but it was closed. I spent a couple of pleasant hours pottering round the town before heading to Fishguard along the coast road, arriving at Fishguard Bay Hotel around 3 pm.

018 I got the customary great welcome from Anne and Gerry who run Writers’ Holiday and was soon settled in my room. The Fishguard Bay Hotel  is a fantastic venue for writers  with lovely views across the bay and plenty of good walks round the headland. I had the first two days free before teaching my own course, so was able to take advantage of some quiet time for writing, as well as engaging in some of the taster sessions and evening activities on offer. First night is the annual quiz which I certainly didn’t want to miss, and I also took part in the poetry tea time sessions which end in a final evening performance.

The main courses consist of 8 hours teaching on specific subjects, mine was on serendipitous writing, and we had lots of fun playing word games with spoonerisms, Oulipo exercises, splicing and cut up techniques but on the serious side, some excellent plots and characters emerged and I was delighted with the work produced over the course. The courses on offer are really varied and cover many different genres, there is even a painting course for those interested.

Over the years, I have made so many friends at Writers’ Holiday and many of us keep in touch via Facebook. I would really hate to miss it. Fortunately I have been asked to lead another course next year, this one will be titled ‘Writerly Desire’ and will cover writing erotic scenes in a number of genres. For more information about Writers’ Holiday, click here

 

007

Fishguard Bay view from the hotel