Greetings, Earthlings, from a crisp but sunny Hong Kong. I am not feeling too bright today, guess I did too much yesterday (Sunday), so I will just take it easy today and dose myself up. If anyone is feeling sorry for me I am happy to receive bunches of grapes (preferably fermented and bottled).
Ok, Down to business. The purpose of my blog today is to educate you and to warn you – here is the education bit:-
These are just hands, painted by the Italian Artist – Guido Daniela – each hand taking up to 10 hours.
There is a method in my madness – I do like showing you entertaining and amazing things – but I have a deeper message....... Things are seldom what they seem.
I must put my thoughts down on paper (well, computer screen anyway) about the number of ‘Publishing’ companies who offer to publish your book online – and take a hefty part of what is left after the online retailers take their cut.
With the reducing price of online books and lower sales volumes this can leave the unwary author with a tiny bit of a small share of very little. I have heard from MANY authors about this. These people prey on the ignorance of newbie writers who do not know how easy it is to do it themselves.
Most of them get the writer to pay for such things as critique and editing (if they bother about such things), book covers and formatting and marketing – and often doing very little of the latter – which is by far the most crucial bit.
I have author friends who have signed contracts giving up as much as half of their share of the books net takings and are still waiting, many months later for any updates, money or significant advertising – It really is something we should all be wary of.
This is not to say that there are NO good publishers out there – there certainly are, but please safeguard you wallet and your peace of mind by checking them out (what we lawyers call ‘due dilligence’).
Here is my guide for checking a prospective publisher out.
Before I became a penniless author I was a not quite so penniless lawyer, so if anyone wants me to look over any contracts or agreements I will be glad to do so. I will not charge for a quick opinion.
In principle, I would try to avoid most of these people if you can. Publishing and marketing on your own – without the aid of a safety net – can of course be daunting, but by doing so you will learn the process and get the most possible benefit from your labours.
Now, the second serious topic of the day – keep the cat or finish the feline? I am a cat lover myself so I am VERY biased. But I have variously been told to keep the cat pics in – ‘cause they are cute’, or to use something else because they are boring now! PLEASE let me know what you think, and if you have cute pics of ANY animals please send them – I may try to include them. Thank you so much.
Finally, the usual exhortation to REGISTER – to receive this blog regularly – there is a box on the column on the right – and a great freebie if you do! Check it out ------>
All the best until next time, Arthur
And now, despite great public demand, the cat pics..........
Does anyone even try to make or keep New Year’s resolutions anymore? Surely not. What is the point? If we want to change a bad behavior or habit (smoking, drinking, eating, parrot wrestling) we should not wait until New Year – that gives us an excuse to carry on doing the thing until at least the 31st December – that can’t be right! If we know we should not be doing something, should we not stop doing it right away?
Year after year I used to make resolutions about dieting and exercising – then the following December, a fatter (I prefer cuddlier) me would make the same ones again with a different slant (who remembers the f- plan diet? – grim!). As the years went by (and there were many of them, yes, despite my youthful good looks!), I – and I suspect most of the rest of the world – took them less seriously, hardly bothering to try much after the first week in January.
Ok, so does this not mean we should not try to improve ourselves, or put right past wrongs? – of course not – it just means that 1st January should not be the day you will start to do better things – that day should be today!
There are some people who will reflect every day on what they can do better today, how that can put past mistakes right, how they can do some good.
I do not claim to be a ‘do-gooder’ – far from it – I have made more mistakes and bad choices in my life than most, I am sure. But I do now sometimes, not everyday, just sometimes, consciously try to think how I can be better, fitter, slimmer, kinder, more thoughtful.
For me, the end target is the motivator – I always consider WHY I want to do these things:
WHY should I go and talk to a friend I fell out with a while ago? – BECAUSE I miss their company, friendship, support.
WHY should I lose weight/ give up smoking? – BECAUSE I will look better, feel fitter and live longer – and my family want me around for as long as I am able to be.
WHY should I give up chocolate and bacon?......................... sorry, can’t think of a good reason.
Anyway, I think you get the point. By focusing on what we will be like, how we feel about ourselves and what our world will be like AFTER we have done what we really ought to do is the best motivator ever.
At one point in my life I was a single dad, doing a job I hated, with no money etc. etc. My job involved a lot of driving around in my car. I kept a photo of Peter, my 7 year old son, at the top of the windscreen – just so I could look up and be reminded of why I was doing what I was doing – it helped.
We are not perfect, well, I am certainly not. We are going to fail. We are going to disappoint ourselves and others. What is important is RECOGNISING when we do it and trying NOT to do it again, or if possible putting right what we have done.
Dear me, I have just re read this piece – am I sanctimonious or what? I do not mean to be – anyone can take any or all of what I have said, consider it and forget it, or maybe just try a bit of it - make NOW the time to put right old wrongs - especially those of you who owe me money – yes that’s right, you know who you are!
Here endeth today’s lesson. Sign up for the blog on the right if you like it (if you don’t, just close the door on your way out!) – you will get a free book about self publishing – a check list to help you work through the chores, by Shelley Hitz – an amazing author and advisor – you should check out her website when you have time - http://www.self-publishing-coach.com/.
Bye for now, happy writing. Here are the cat pics : -
Did you know that William Shakespeare (yes, the guy wot wrote the plays) used about 17,000 different words in his writing, and he MADE UP about 1,700 of them. I read it on Yahoo, so it must be true.
Wouldn’t it be great if writers had such freedom now? Instead of spending hours checking thesauri (is that the plural of thesaurus?), dictionaries etc. etc. we could just make up new words to fit. I have never known how to properly describe the feeling you get when you have lined up outside a store for hours in a sale and an old lady barges in front of you to grab YOUR coveted item. It’s an old lady, what can you do, without risking a felony charge? Anger? Frustration? Rage? – none of them even come near it. How about Incanplosive? Strangulacious? No, no, they still do not properly express your feelings.
I think Lewis Carroll got it right when he wrote Jabberwocky - `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.’ If he wrote that today, we would all assume he had written it after a night out with the boys, forgotten to turn on his autocorrect, forgotten to run spell check AND had not bothered to get it professionally edited. But in those days (1872) he could get away with it.
Enough of this now. If I carry on, I will be tempted to primple the whole thing out of all bulgatiousness, and I think we all agree, that would be very frangimlish.
Please do not think I am always complaining, I try very hard not to, but I fail a lot. I keep trying to convince myself that things really are not bad at all really in the book world. Writers can hold their published work in their hand in professional paperback form without it costing them a penny (see my book ‘Publish for free’ on Smashwords, or let me send it to you for nothing if you subscribe to my blog. Look for the box somewhere on this page).
Readers can pick up amazing books for 99 cents or for free – so no-one can ever say anymore that they cannot afford to buy a book. I have made my feelings well known in earlier blogs about the low prices of ebooks - but that is another matter.
If you want to learn anything, there are plenty of self help guides available – again for free, so you can learn computer programming, any foreign language you like, plumbing, ferret breeding, .... absolutely anything – it’s all there in your ipad, phone, computer, whatever.
We really are lucky, and pampered. We have to make so little effort these days. I suppose we should embrace and welcome all these positive things – I guess we have no choice anyway.
There are still things I WILL complain about though, just to get it off my chest.
1. Why can I not get Google Analytics to work? – Yes, there is a help section, but there is not a ‘help you understand the help’ section.
2. Am I the only one who cannot believe the level of repeats on the television? I sometimes think I am in a time warp which I will never get out of when I see the same thing not just one or two times, but time after time after time – do not the many adverts we are subjected to pay them enough to make new ones? Obviously not.
3. My third and final gripe (yes, that’s a real word – look it up). Unsolicited texts, and phone calls – especially with machines at the end. (I will put up with unsolicited letters – I feel empowered when I throw them away). I long ago decided that I would NEVER buy anything that was promoted in such a way – if we all did that they would soon stop doing it.
There, I feel much better now. It really does help to ‘get it off your chest’ as they say. I wonder where that saying came from – it really is rather ridiculous! It’s a funny old world.
On Friday I will be blasting another blog your way – it may or may not be up to much, sign up to make sure that you do not miss out on my mediocrity.
If you are new to my blog, you should know that each blog is unashamedly accompanied by various fluffy balls of cuteness. They make me feel better, maybe they will do the same for you!
Bye for now, and happy writing. Arthur.
“It’s time management, Jim, but not as we know it."
(apologies to non-star trek fans - you sad people!)
I am sure there are really calm and organized writers out there who have everything in control, finish all their work, plan their jobs carefully – and still have time for creative writing. I am not one of them. I DO write lists, then something crops up, the cat gets sick, there is a great film on tv. etc etc – and at the end of the day I end up with only some of my jobs done. To make it right I mark them done and then write them is as a job for the NEXT day. It works for me, well, really… no, it doesn’t.
If I have an hour (usually on a Sunday), I will spend it going through the lists for the previous week and listing most of them for the following week. I try to not be too hard on myself, I do get SOME things done, and I AM trying to improve. Hence this weeks blog. If I outline to you what I THINK you should do, some of it may rub off on me.
To me, time management has two levels – macro management and micro management. Macro management is where I list jobs which MUST be done to take me forward towards my goals (see last week’s post). Such Items as the writing I need to do each day, important emails to answer, management of website and affiliations. The big stuff. The micro bits will be responding to emails, posts and messages, investigating new things, reading useful blogs and articles – the things which are not time sensitive.
Next comes the hard part. There is no easy way to say this – Force yourself to start. Sometimes the lists can be long and daunting for the day, with way too many jobs for even a superhuman like me to do in one day. Looking at the list is de-motivating and stressful.
What I do is to cover up the list, except for the first item, and I will not look at the second item until the first item is done. I have learned to put out of my mind everything except the job I am dealing with at that time. This way I will get through a good number, if not all of the jobs. I find it difficult to rest or relax with outstanding jobs, so I cross the ones out that are not finished and make them a ‘Tomorrow’s Job’ – then I can relax – what a cheat!
This is actually a good way of sorting out the important jobs, because if you re-schedule a job day after day, week after week – you will eventually realize that it is probably not worth doing any more and stop listing it. This method of course does not actually manage the TIME too well, but it does manage YOU and hopefully make you more productive.
Another way is to plan an amount of minutes or hours you will give to each task, and if you do not finish the task, you will have to stop and plan more time to finish it tomorrow – this way you know that you will stop working at a certain time each day – this may be better for those of you who can switch off and relax, it gives you ‘quality time’ and you can plan what to do with this time.
The key to the success of both of these methods is REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS. I am THE WORST in this respect. I expect to get up, write a novel, redecorate the house, etc etc – all before breakfast. This type of wishful thinking should be controlled. It will make you more demoralized and frustrated when you fail to achieve world peace before lunch or build ten websites before dinner.
Personally, time management is, like success, a journey and not a destination. Please let me know of your personal issues (with time management!). If you want to check out my recently released thriller. 'Deadly Election' it is available in ebook and paper back HERE.... And don't forget to subscribe to the blog ---------->
It’s time to finish now, my pot of tea is getting cold. Take care – next blog on Tuesday – write well, Arthur.
Yes, it's the obligatory cute cat pic. If you have cute cat pics please send them - I would like to feature pics from readers - it means I will get at least ONE reader coming back to see their pic published!
Yoga is a way to develop your meditative skills and can be very helpful to improve or start your motivation.
In the blog below I discuss motivation, but relaxation and fitness are as important to motivation as any self help book or friendly advice. Our friend on the left will be ready to start writing anytime now! - He writes doggerel, you know.
Ok. Today's sermon is on the subject of Motivation. I have capitalised the M in Motivation as it is iMportant. The first thing I want you to do is relax..., that’s it, breathe deeply.... if you find it difficult to start writing, or to carry on writing there are several things that you should know.
EVERYBODY has been there. It’s nothing new, you are not unique. You will get over it SOON.
Whatever the reason for it – Tiredness, overwork, problems.... there are strategies to help you first of all come to terms with it and then to move forward.
Motivation, or the lack of it will always be a problem with many writers. We have to accept it. We mostly lead quite insular writing lives, without instant praise, satisfaction or reward. It is important to be involved in the writing community – reading blogs like this, having lots of positive facebook friends and twitter contacts - It makes you feel less isolated and you will often get support and encouragement there.
I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotic (I don’t think?), but there have been many times where I have struggled to put one sentence in front of another, so I will share my thoughts with you.
I have managed to write a 127,000 word epic in ten months whilst holding down a full time job and walking the dog. I am now well into the second book, and still working full time, writing blog, fishing, playing the piano and thinking up witty (?) tweets at the same time. So, although I am aware I am still doing many things wrong, I must be doing some things right.
Let us talk about goals. Yes, boring isn’t it, goal setting – takes all the fun out of lying on the bed watching CSI – Miami, but goals can be quite exciting things – you can start to think about them in the ad. breaks to ease yourself in gently if you like. Then, when CSI has finished, you can start to write (you really do NOT want to watch Wipeout do you?).
Let’s face it – you are a Writer (say it proudly). And writers write! You must have started writing (or thought about starting writing) for a reason. You want to achieve something, some time, yes? Ok, we are getting somewhere.
Put a time limit on it, a very reasonable one, a flexible one – motivation is NOT about pressure – it is the opposite – it should enable you to relax and really enjoy what you do. If, for example, you want to write a novel – it should end up maybe 80,000 – 100,000 words.
Set a daily goal depending on YOUR commitments and YOUR life. It may be that you can only write 500 words a day, and not every day, that’s ok. It means you may finish your work in six months or so. That’s fine. Set a target that is EASY – do not give yourself pressure – it will kill your motivation. It is not the end of the world if you miss a day, or miss your target for a few days. You are unlikely to write well if you are stressed and anxious.
Ok, you’ve set your goal and you are sat down at your computer with a bar of chocolate (it works for me). Even if you are not sure where to start... just start, with anything. It will get you into the habit of starting and will gradually get easier. Write nonsense for a while if you need to – why not?
If all else fails, talk with a friend, a positive one, not an “I don’t know why you’re bothering with this writing lark” type of friend. Find a “wow, you are writing a book, that’s amazing" – type of friend – I am sure you have one. The encouragement of those we value, friends or family, can have an enormous influence of our motivation, we should not ignore it.
If you really have hit a block, don’t force yourself. Leave the computer for a while (yes, you can take the chocolate with you). Take a look around my website – I have tried to make it humorous – it may make you smile – or it may make you say “If this idiot can write, I certainly can!” either way it may help. If all else fails, email me. I may not be able to help – but at least you are writing!!
I was going to write about time-management but I will leave that for next week now – in my research I have found some amazing websites to help you manage your time – I will tell you about them next week.
When I started writing this blog I decided I must somehow be different, so that I stood out from the crowd – maybe with amazing wit and earth shattering views. Instead I am “the nutter who put cat pics in his blog”. Oh well, I did not really plan it, but I do like cat pics. The poor cat below does not have a microwave so he has to think of another way to warm his dinner – hehe. Bye for now. Oh, I nearly forgot to plug my subscription list – go over there on the right and subscribe to my blog – or the bird gets it! Happy writing.
While you are here, take your time to look around the site.
We add new bits everyday - a funny pic, a useful tool or recommendation. A family or personal pic (I do that just to embarrass my kids), but Hong Kong is a great place and there are some nice pics of Hong Kong in there.
Meet the author
Arthur Crandon is a lawyer, the boring office kind, not the exciting (and much better paid) courtroom type. He worked as a solicitor for a while before embarking on an interesting life overseas. He has spent most of his time in recent years in South East Asia, more recently in Hong Kong. Before that, Arthur lived and worked in the Philippine Islands.
He loves to fish, and play the piano – but spends most of his time writing, eating, drinking and sleeping
– usually, but not always, in that order.
His first book, Deadly Election, draws on his strange imagination and his
experiences, together with those of others, in a land that, beneath a veneer of civilisation, operates like the Wild West and is very
dangerous to innocent and gullible foreigners.
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