I can tell you’re waiting with baited breath to know what that title means to a writer who enjoys playing with words. And when I tell you it means Traditional versus self-publishing and that I only named it as such because I liked the rhyme and the underlying meaning  (you’ll see it, if you dig deep enough), then, and only then, will you realise what this blog is all about.

At this point I have to wonder if you even care. I’m beginning not to.

I have been asked by a peer to give my thoughts on what I think of it, as it affects…well, moi. And seeing as you find my opinions terribly interesting (all two of you), I will tell you.

When I began writing, my opinion was this…Trad only! I would often say, ‘Until Trad knocks on my door and publishes my brilliantly written and terribly exciting novels, Trad shall be the only route I’ll take.’ No buts.

But…….then the real world kicked in.

My writing has seasoned over the years (really, it has). And as I have upped my game and learned more about the world ‘they’ call the publishing world, and after much experience of self addressed envelopes falling through my letter box, saying ‘We love your work but, no thanks’, I have this to say: Don’t discount a route, which may give you a little bit of an edge and maybe even a meager pat on the back when you are feeling like those pats are seriously lacking. It is called vanity press for a reason, because surely that’s exactly what it is, a route to take when all other routes fail and, if nothing else, to keep you moving one step further into the game.

That’s what it is…a game. Play it well.

Here’s what I would advise.

If you have written a novel that has taken you a year or more to write, go Trad, every time. And I’m talking about the big boys here, not small publishers who slog you to death marketing the damn thing.

If on the other hand it’s taken you less than a year and it has commercial value, then self-publishing is a great option to get it and the other ones you wrote that same year, out into the market place. Who knows? When it’s out there, someone could snap you up and the novels you wrote the year before could end up on Waterstone’s bookshelves. A nice thought, if wishful thinking is what you do a lot of.

On another level, a good friend of mine has published the memoirs of his life with his brother who died of cancer at an early age. He is donating all the proceeds to a dedicated cancer charity and what better method is there then to self publish?  Here’s his link. Buy it!

 http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-living-years/18911417

As for me, I have self-published a book of short stories. Someone asked me recently (I can’t tell you her name, because it would be indiscreet…Janice), why I put it up on Amazon at such a price when I could have kindled it? My answer was this: It took me four years to collate those stories. To give them away for 99 cents would be like making my nine-year-old do a paper round at 6 in the morning before school.

Have I sold many? Not really. Do I expect to? Not really. Would I do it again? Yes, because my short stories are my vanity.

My novels on the other hand…Trad not Have.

Wendy xx

P.S. Here’s the link to my Have.
http://www.amazon.com/Expect-Retrospect-Wendy-Reakes/dp/1470996693/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328883527&sr=8-1

I

 
I once had a single claim to fame, which was being thrown out of Ronnie Scots (famous Jazz club in London) for fighting. I was drunk and we (me and my other drunken friends) were all mucking about while the band was screeching on their oboes and the audience listened without moving a single muscle to the beat (no beat) . A silly sober person who didn't see the joke, started throwing a few vibes our way and that was how we all got caught up in a rough and tumble. Hence the eviction.

I was about 28 at the time. Not young, but not seasoned either. But now that I am…seasoned, you would think I’d know better. But no. Today, I have another claim to fame, which is getting thrown out of Liptopia, an online writing group.

Now, I’m not one to bear a grudge, as the guy who destroyed my perfect Ebay feedback will testify to,
but I must just tell my 400 strong readers, about the little incident, which occurred only yesterday.

They say (those invisible people who dictate what’s right and wrong in the world), that to achieve the status of a published writer, one should have a strong internet presence. That was the reason I joined most of the on-line writing groups and I have no regrets at all, except for one. Litopia.

Litopia boasts a friendly atmosphere. A home from home where one can allegedly relax and talk, without fear of conflict from other members. Sounds great, huh? I thought so, until I found out the hard way, that if you want to stay on Litopia, you cannot form a conflicting opinion with any regular member who wants to throw you to the floor and kick the hell out of you. 

It seems the regulars (or brat pack as I call them), form a long line of mods, super mods, and super super mods. I think there may even be a King mod in there somewhere. That’s okay, until your particular case is being judged by a mod at the bottom of the food chain who calls himself Crowe and has an avatar displaying a devil’s face with horns. Friendly, huh?

On Litopia I have learned nothing with regards to writing, but I have learned much with regards to life. Give a writer a little bit of power and suddenly he thinks he can rule the world. I believe it has something to do with making up for his inadequacies of being yet another unpublished writer, chosen by his writing peers to moderate an internet writing site.

Okay my beef is with a devil called Crowe and I’ve used my little blog here to rant and let off a bit of steam, but just allow me a moment to examine the game of life played at Litopia.

So you know me, a bit flippant, I like to lark around and I am terribly sarcastic, but underneath the writingmum façade is a woman in her prime, who has taught herself how to write within just five years, whilst raising twins and forgoing a disability. Now, you know me, I never mention the D word, but there it is, and I have been accredited for keeping stomp about it throughout my exploratory internet career. The thing is now though, everyone can see I have a D issue just by looking at my webpage, so it’s really no secret any more.

So I got to wondering, whilst I was being slated and verbally tortured on Litopia this past week. Was it the fact that I have improved my craft tenfold over the past couple of years that has got their backs up? Or is it that I am a middle-aged mum sitting in a little rented bungalow in Bristol? Or is the fact I am a D? …Devilish, Dangerous, Dastardly and Doggone good at writing.  Hmm. I wonder.

As a little side note, I’d like to say thank you for some private messages that have filtered through from the elite at Litopia and I am more than pleased to report that there is life there after all. People who are like me. They have a sense of humour,  they make spelling mistakes and they enjoy a bit of banter while talking about their love for the written word. Halleluiah!!

To those (my new friends) I say: stand up and be noticed, make some changes there, so that your worthy opinions are not flattened by overzealous moderators. Don't allow your Litopian peers to silence your words, to moderate your passionate outlook or to change the way you write your accounts, just because they don't like the tone of you or the look of you, or that you could be more versatile writers than they. You are all individuals and you are writers, which makes you passionate and opinionated. Let them know that you should be accepted as such.
That is life.
 
Why doesn’t the world out there realize that we, writers of potential WOB, need a calm environment; time to ourselves whilst we contemplate our next chapter, no disturbances to upset the balance of our busy imaginations, and ultimately, no stress?

Following a very long half-term, my week began yesterday with sending my little tikes off to school with an encouraging wave. “Look, listen and learn,” I said, as I always say when they start their day of learning.  And as I drove off, heading towards home and the promise of my beloved PC waiting for me to interact with it, (cyber intercourse, I call it), I watched my little darlings leave me, lugging their sandwich boxes and book bags behind them and I was, regretfully, without an ounce of guilt, elated to see them go.

I arrived home, flicked the switch on the already filled kettle (I’m not stupid!), put my slippers on, wrapped myself in a warm robe and plonked myself down at my desk. There’s my boy, I remarked to my screen and gave it just a little swipe with an old cloth to get the dust off.

Then, ‘You’ve got mail’.

I made one click and suddenly my day (my life) took a nose dive.

I sobbed as I mourned the loss of my window in time to continue writing my book and as my inbox began to load up with problematic emails, I sobbed some more.

Our house in France, which we’ve been unable to visit for a whole year, had sprung a leak. A tap had somehow exploded and flooded the house. The flood had caused the electricity to short and to top it all, it’s on the market and we have potential purchasers viewing it this morning.

Thus began my day of stress and nagging headaches and shouting matches with French helpers who watch our house for an extortionate fee.  

So…a message to my PC and newly dusted blank screen, awaiting my next chapter.

No intercourse today, I’ve got a headache.

 
I may have talked about this before, in a fashion, about how ready we really are, when we decide to submit that manuscript.

I remember my first novel. ‘Brilliant’, I thought as I typed ‘The End’. I read it back once and decided without a single doubt in my mind that it was going to be a Worldwide No. One Best Seller, otherwise known as a WOB. And as I popped it into a brown envelope and sealed the seal, I pondered my availability to do book tours.  And what would I wear? What do authors throw on these days? Are they still wearing long hippy skirts, velvet scarves draped around their necks and their grey hair tied up randomly on the top of their head? If so, would I get away with such a look? Could I be different and go to the meeting with my potential publisher wearing my customary black? Would stepping out of the regular writer’s uniform be frowned upon? It was a dilemma. Truly!

But then I got knocked back.

My second novel was also going to be the next big WOB.  I edited that one twice. I sent it out to the same agents who rejected me the first time around. ‘Okay. You didn’t want the first one, but you’re gonna be hard pressed to turn down this book. It’s a potential goldmine. Yes, of course I’d be happy to discuss a deal for the film rights. Hey, I’ll write the script.  

But…I never got the chance to have that discussion. I was rejected….I mean my book was rejected once more.

So my third WOB, which I’m currently writing is the one where I have to get it absolutely right. It’s one thing having a fantastic book with a hot story, but if you can’t sell yourself, your synopsis is weak and your M.S hasn’t been edited at least three times, then you can forget a publishing deal…unless you’re one of the lucky ones with a halo hovering over your head and just so happens to be in the right place at the right time.

So when is the right time?

Today I entered a contest. It’s a contest with a major publishing house for a £25,000 book advance and publication. The book doesn’t have to be finished and you only have to send the first 5000 words, a synopsis and a bio. I’m not advertising on here, because I don’t want too much competition (smiley face with evil green eyes), but if you send me a note I will of course impart that piece of knowledge, which could change your life forever….As it is about to change mine. Smiley face with a halo above.

 
“Shut the damn door.” Alice Burton was standing behind her enormous clutter-free desk. She was leaning on her hands, putting all her weight onto them, thrusting her shoulders forward, like a panther ready to pounce.

I thought today would be a good day to talk about the opening and closing of chapters. How do you do it? Personally, I can’t leave a chapter without a cliffhanger. I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t work for me. I guess writing is such a thrilling ride in itself, that to stop it at the finish of a chapter without a final crack of the whip, goes against my energetic style.

The passage above is my opening to chapter 3 of my new novel ‘The Song of the Underground’. I remember when I wrote it. I had a blank page in front of me, after I had just completed the ever-so-important chapters 1 and 2. A line popped into my head. ‘Shut the damn door’. I typed it up. There it was in black ink on my white screen, waiting to be embellished. And so it began, resulting in the dynamics of two new characters and an arc that demonstrated a way forward and a means to an end. Perfect!

I begin most of my chapters that way. I allow the words to filter into my fingertips and let them do the talking. It’s a wonderful feeling, as you know yourself, when suddenly you are creating something that never existed a moment ago, that will, on completion, be forever etched and preserved to the end of time.

And the finale of said chapter! What do you do with it? Do you allow it to just fade away and go on to chapter 4 (nothing wrong with that) or do you do what I do and leave it dangling on a piece of string?

Cliffhangers! Wonderful tools for the readability factor, but also it can allow the writer a way out when said writer doesn’t quite know where that part of the storyline is going yet. So you leave it hanging…reader is potentially happy and writer has just bought some time to think up the next part of the story. At least that’s my take on it.

Ben kept reading. It was a personal letter coming directly from Alice Burton’s office. “The Sous Llyndum project? What’s that?”
Col. Geoffrey Barnes stood up. He was leaving without touching his drink. “We’ll discuss that in the morning, on the way.”
Ben placed his coffee cup onto the white china saucer. “On the way, where?”
“Sous Llyndum.”

That was the end of chapter 3; a perfect cliffhanger, allowing me time to consider exactly what these characters were going to do when they got to Sous Llyndum; my subterranean city beneath London.

I’ll talk more about writing techniques later. And if anyone has anything to add, please feel free to comment at the end of my blog.

If you want a better idea of what I’m writing about in ‘The Song of the Underground’, check out the tab above. The book is Steam Punk genre and an artist has created some wonderful images of three of my characters. You can click on the pictures if you want a more detailed image. They’re fabulous.

Have a good day y’all

Wendy

 
Well, well, well. This is very exciting. Now you know me, I never boast, hmmm, but yesterday was a bit of a revelation. Let me tell you why…

But, before we go any further, I must know…What is the internet etiquette for disclosing stats?  In the outside world, would it be on the same level as that most distasteful, blunderous(*), etiquettless(*) practice of discussing money? Well, I do that too…discuss money, I mean. What can I say? I’m an open book…wallet even!

N.B (*) means I made up the word. Not because I’m trying to be clever, but my ever-exploratory little brain often asks itself, if the guy at the beginning of time, just before he toppled off the tower of Babel, can make words up, why the hell can’t I? Isn’t that what freedom of speech is? Or is that something else? Answers on a postcard.

So, back to bragging (I mean, writing) about my stats… I used to get a fabulous following of 60 people a day (on average). On average because on some occasions they went out for the afternoon and didn’t check in (strange, but true) and on other days, especially when there was a fight going down, I couldn’t get rid of ‘em, and my little chart, on this here Weebly site, peeked…just like we all peek…on occasions.

Well yesterday my peek peeked to 600 visits. Now I’m no mathematician, so when I say that’s an increase of 10%, I am of course wrong, as I am always wrong when it comes to maths. So how much is that? Again answers on a postcard. No, you don’t need two postcards…just put the two answers on the same one!!!!

So, with that 6 million percent increase in stats, I have to ask myself, am I now famous? Or was it a blip? Okay, I launched my new webpage and, yes, its fabulous, and yes some mates of mine were chucking my name around the net like I was the only blogger in cyber space wishing to be a proper writer, and yes maybe my little 60 regulars checked in twice, but apart from that, I must say I’m rather pleased.

Now I haven’t got time to tell you about my new novel. Damn! I talk too much. I’ll just have to do that tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting.

Wendy-with-a-little-tongue-in-cheek-and-a-big-head-Reakes.

Xxx

 
_ I’m asking this virtual question, because on Friday, I did. Quit, I mean. Nothing too drastic. It was my regular forum where I have enjoyed many a time over the past two years chatting to friends and peers about my one true passion, writing.  I chatted and chatted, tossed a bit of banter here and there, helped other people with their work and I reviewed their stuff, just as they kindly reviewed mine. It was a home from home; somewhere I could relax and have fun, via the written word.

But last week it all came crashing down, when my little nook, namely a group within the forum, was suddenly made void of its leader. He literally left the building and I was left with a great big pile of rubble at my feet with the notion of clearing it up seeming like a momentous task indeed. It was then I realized, as virtual friends and acquaintances withered and slunk away in their droves, that enough was enough.

Really! How much time can we give to an internet site and allow our writing to suffer? And if you can’t control the addiction of spending every waking hour there, at what point do you tell yourself, now is the time to quit? I have to wonder if there is indeed an AA equivalent of internet forums? AFA, perhaps (Acute Forum Addiction). And in such a site, is there a set of twelve steps we should seek to overcome as we delve deeper into the recovery program? Step one: Admitting we are powerless over internet forums. Well, if I find AFA, I will inform at least 50 friends where to find the link. God knows they need it as much as I.

By the way, the guy who left the building, we are great friends and his midnight flight did nothing to change that. In fact I should thank him publicly for making me do what I knew in my heart I should have done a while ago. Thanks, Marc. xx

So, how do you like my new look webpage? Love it, don’t you? I can tell.

So here’s the plan. Whilst I am carrying on with writing my new novel ‘The Song of the Underground’ I shall talk, as I promised in the beginning (before I failed miserably), about that ever elusive road to publication. Expect some mood swings, I am a writer after all and without those little temperamental ups and downs I could hardly call myself one.  In fact I told some people the other day….Writers are passionate. If you’re not passionate, you’re not a writer.  The world according to Wendy Reakes.

So, go have a little look around my website and tomorrow I’ll talk to you about my new book. Bet you can't wait!

Thanks for dropping by
Love Wendy xxx

 
_ Yes, it's me, your favourite blogger slogger. I have been absent, it's true, and the reasons for that I shall explain in a moment, after I tell you about the two seductresses who have enticed me back to my webpage covered in cobwebs and dust.

Teresa and Jess.

I know Teresa. She is Teresa Hamilton, a gorgeous gal and a great writer and friend, but I'm not sure who Jess is. I love her anyway because she and Teresa made me realise, by urging me to come out of my virtual shell (mainly the end of my hallway where my desk sits), that I have a website here that needs a bit of attention.

Pheeeewwwwww....sorry, cobweb across my logo....gone now

Anyway...here I am with little red cheeks, blushing and ashamed at the notion of deserting something I started and did not maintain. I was full of it at the beginning. A daily blog!! Yep, got nothing else to do, so I'll commit to writing about that elusive road to publication every day! Yes, you heard right. EVERY day!!! I kept at it for at least two weeks before my interest waned and it turned to another part of my life. "You mean your kids?" I hear you say. "Nope," I respond with a toss of the head. "My writing."


I am so far into my book ‘The Song of the Underground’, that everything else has taken a back seat. Even my poor little eight-soon-to-be-nine-year-olds have suffered as the result of this book. But they forgive me. Strange, but true. They actually support my endeavours to become a published writer.  How about that? Proud mama!

So I’m going to upgrade the site. Put a link in to my new book on Amazon (a collection of short stories) and a link to an e.book where I have collaborated with a group of friends.

And I’m going to tell you more about my new novel (almost finished). I’m going to post some artwork someone has done for me, illustrating some of my characters and I know you’re going to love them.

So for now, over and out, but keep watching this space because I’m gonna be back with a vengeance.

Love Wendy xxx

 
Fiction fatigue!

Yes folks, I have it.

For the past two weeks my poor little fingers have been banging my poor little keyboard and together, we have churned out 15,000 words, more commonly known as eight chapters.

Alongside my book, we (my keyboard and I) have remastered two old scripts, taken from my bottom drawer; the dust blown off with hearty lungs until the air was filled with the remnants of gone-but-not-forgotten. We have entered three more competitions, the more recent with ‘Narrative’ magazine, who offer a startling $3,500 reward. Oh the joy! And with all that going on, we’ve reviewed a few pieces of great works of literature, penned by virtual friends and I (without keyboard) have finished reading Jane Eyre.

So, I asked myself this morning, what is a girl to do when she is just a little weary of words, battered by books, weathered by witing, otherwise known as fiction fatigue? (And yes, I meant to spell witing that way. Writing doesn’t rhyme). What is a girl to do when the relationship with her keyboard turns sour? What does she do when she takes one look at him and thinks he’s fat and ugly? When she touches his digits and thinks they really need some time apart.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. Go shopping!

So, I’m off. All day. And only after I have bought myself a new hair clip, (desperately needed because, I haven’t left the house in weeks and it’s grown to such startling lengths, that my other poor little hairclip won’t hold it up), and only after I buy my kids some new underwear so that their little bottoms don’t pop out of the top, will I return.

Goodbye!

 
I’m back.

Back writing, I mean. Oh, what joy, to see the words of my new novel form onto a blank white page! You have surely felt this, dear reader/writer, when a story that doesn’t yet exist, begins to unfold, as you, the author of said masterpiece, pens it with ideas originating and unraveling from the far, dark reaches of your suddenly-creative brain.

You won’t begrudge me this moment, dear reader/writer, when I tell you of a week that has been inspirational and productive and highly rewarding. For doesn’t it make a change?

I took a stand this week.  I found myself blindingly immersed in an internet site that is, and always has been, a place of high interest, evolving friendships, and great works of literature that one can read and offer opinions of, by way of review or critique. BookRix is the name. A peer review site, which takes the writer’s ego and allows it to prosper; leaving the negativity of agents and publishers at its door, allowing its authors of all ages, genres and skills to showcase their talents via virtual books, where the pages actually turn.

But beware, dear reader/writer if you succumb to the envious attractions of this seductively enticing site, because within its wall lurks something that is both terrifying as it is startlingly addictive, like the most potent of drugs. The beast that lies within its virtual walls takes the form of a forum; a term so easily proffered as it rolls off the tongue, yet one that is dangerous to go amidst for fear of being hooked and captured until you can no longer leave unscathed.

This happened to me, dear reader/writer, and thus I urge you to travel carefully the path to its door. Inside the forum are rooms, called groups. And within these rooms, virtual beings await, attempting to enrapture you with their playful banter, their clever wit and their protective voices as they hear your pain.  One such place, I can hardly say its name: the coffee shop; named thus, strategically, with the intention of enticing you to its cyber structure, so that the smell of fresh coffee and newly baked croissants may seduce you, as it refreshes your writing palette.

Its leader, Paper.planes; a woman both mysterious as she is engaging; the coffee shop’s creator and keeper and one who reigns over the inhabitants with a gentle warm embrace. Beware, dear reader/writer, her beguiling, soothing voice, as she takes your hand and leads you inside, and take care when the door is at last closed and the means of escape never to be gained.

And beyond those walls, another, equally as cunning and beguiling, named Lineh; the ruler supreme, the voice of reason when the writers within the rooms revolt and rebel. Lineh: a woman whose influence drives the masses, the one whose undisputed power and effect is unrivaled, a woman we revere with ease and willingness. Mark her word, dear reader/writer, for it is with great wisdom she offers it plain.

So, here I am, free of its clutches for a short time. It was a difficult journey; my escape. It was an action made on a whim as I battled and tore down the vines laden with thorns that held me prisoner within its walls.  Then, with the distraction of its jovial and sometimes explosive debates behind me, the rulers of this strange place once again offered cleverly spun tactics to entice me back into its fold: a winning story, giving me financial rewards; an offering of wealth for a simply penned short prose. How cruel they are, indeed.

But, while their virtual claws grab at my weakness of self-will, I resist, spending a momentous few days completing four more chapters of my new book. Now my office; a haven away from the attractions of the coffee shop, once more echoes the rattling sound of my keyboard, as my fingers fly across its letters, creating pages of a story, oh so dear to me.

Dedicated to Beth (Paper.planes) and inmate, Faith.Ruelle, both of whom are currently recovering from serious illnesses, and to Lineh, who I hope will return soon.

Love Wendyxxx