Category Archives: Writing Business

NaNo Help

Like many thousands around the globe, I take part in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that means, it’s an American-led scheme for encouraging creativity and literacy, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Suspect most of you might have guessed that from the banner above.

The idea is that you write a 50k novel in one month – the main event is always November too. The ideal is that you write draft one of a novel, that way, to meet the 1,667 words a day average you need to reach the target, most writers have to just write, no editing or tidying up, you just bang out that first draft. Having said that I know one writer who’s averaging over 6k a day and I have no idea how she manages that.

This process has proved successful for me in the past, both Locked Up and Locked In were written as NaNoWriMo projects. Last year I wrote “Play The Game” which was a new draft of a previously written book, one that I had all the research and plot lines sorted on, but didn’t like the way I’d written it originally, so I started from scratch and that book is now out on submission. But this year I didn’t have a novel in mind because I’m working on a number of different projects and I didn’t want to start something new. So this year, I’m doing things a little differently.

I’m using a Scrivener File (it’s an alternative to Word that works really well for novel writing – well it does for me anyway), see more about Scrivener here. I’ve called it “Scenes in My Head”, and what I’m doing is that I’ve put in chapters for each book and put the scenes in the relevant chapter for pushing to the right project when I’m ready. So, as I see a scene that needs writing, I write it.

So far I am averaging 2,326 words a day! I am well chuffed with myself.

I have written 6,304 words to finish the first in a series of police procedurals with supernatural undertones that I’ve decided to try. I’ve written 16,560 words of the second book too. I’ve also managed 12,029 words of the first of a new steampunk trilogy. These scenes are being written out of sequence and from any book as I fancy writing it. Several times now I’ve written scenes from different books on the same day. One day I actually managed a scene from each book, which rather reassures me that the scatterbrain approach works for me.

In total, that’s 34,893 words in 15 days.

I should say that all these numbers are so precise because Scrivener gives them to me, I don’t go counting and adding up, that would be too much like hard work.

The point of all this is actually to say that this is one of the easiest NaNoWriMos that I have ever done, and mostly that is down to (a) I’m working it in a way my brain can cope with – jumping from story to story that excites me rather than slogging through the tough patches, and because (b) my mental health is, general and genuinely, so much better this year.

What that means is that I’ve pushed on with three writing projects that had started to stagnate and I’m really pleased with that, because that in turn, helps my mental health be positive. So on to NaNo-ing and hopefully this will see three more projects ready for submission in the new year.

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Crime Blog

Here’s a thing you may not know about me, I have a second blog:

GB Williams Crime Blog

If you get a chance, please pop over there in February as I’m posting a series of interviews with crime authors and I’m finding it interesting to learn more about what makes these people tick.

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Virtual Festival

Today, I have been largely at a literary festival.

I know, we’re not supposed to go anywhere, and I didn’t, it was all on-line.  Me and a load of other writers getting together thanks to Showboat TV and talking about our writing.  And in my case my editing too.

We’re talking about our books, old and new, and reading segments of the book.  It made me think that I should read a snippet of each of my books and stick them on my website too, but to do that I’d actually have to listen to me and that is so cringe-worthy I’m not sure I could.

With lockdown, I’m actually finding that there are advantages to on-line literary festivals.  For a start, I don’t have to travel.  Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE travelling, but it takes up a lot of time, can be uncomfortable and stressful.  It means staying in places you don’t know and buying food you can’t be certain of.

On-line means I only have to travel from one end of the house to the other – and it really isn’t that big a house. I get the comfort of my own chair, let alone my own bed at night, and I can have whatever food I want.  Today I made a jambalaya and it was lovely – and it meant that the place smelt great for the afternoon when I did the second slot.

More importantly, it meant that I got to met up with some old writer pals I’ve not seen in ages because we usually met up at festivals and book fairs and of course, we haven’t had any of those for a year.

So if you’d like to hear what’s going on with writing in Wales, check out www.showboat.tv as they will be putting recordings of the day up on their site.  See how we writers can put words on the page, but can’t always read them out.  😉

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Interview

Did an interview with Dr Noir last night about my latest book.  It’ll be posted tomorrow, so will be all over my social media links.

Think in, I’m so paranoid I’ve spent all day thinking I’ve probably said the wrong thing, I’ve made myself look like an idiot and I should go hide in the corner and die of shame.

Then I thought, hold on, saying the wrong thing, looking like an idiot – that’s me all over that is.  So okay, so be it.  I’ll share the video tomorrow and hope for some additional business from it.

Fingers crossed (and never ever expect me to actually watch it – it would be excruciating for me!).

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Psychopaths Panel

Llandeilo LitFest 2018Should start by stating that the panel was about Psychopaths in Literature, not a panel of psychopaths.  Though…

Tonight I am back from a weekend of Llandeilo Litfest – it was a blast!  My first ever experience of being on a panel and I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great hour.

The panel was led by Thorne Moore, writer of psychological crime novels, many of which are based here in Wales.  She did a great job of asking pertinent questions that set the rest of us off into interesting discussions.

My fellow panellists were John Nicholl and John Thompson. Now John N is an ex-police officer, and John T is a barrister, which left me feeling a little out of place – I’ve never worked in any of the law enforcement or legal occupations.  I’m an office bod who specialises in system design (Excel and Access mostly), so least qualified there.

What I enjoyed was that the three of us didn’t always agree which makes for lively conversation, all good-natured.  It was also lovely to get some really good audience participation going with an open floor and some back and forth.

To find more about these lovely people try:

 

It was also great to see some old friends and make new ones.  People that I’ve connected to on the internet, I finally got to meet in real life. New people that I met for the first time too.  All the writers were lovely people and everyone willing to lend a hand at all points, writers are just about the most supportive group of people I have ever met. Then there were people who I know through Swansea and District Writers’ Circle, lovely to see everyone again.  Had some great chats at the Book Fair and managed to sell a few volumes too.

Thanks to all who made it a great weekend.

 

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The Day I Outsold Agatha Christie

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Never thought I’d be able to say that, but I can.  GB Williams outsold Agatha Christie. More copies of “Locked Up” sold than did “Ordeal by Innocence” by Agatha Christie.

And I can now say I’m an Amazon #1 bestseller.

Wow saying that feels good too!

Okay, so I only outsold her for one day in a niche market, but it’s a great thing to be able to say. The fact that it happened when I started the day feeling down and utterly useless, only makes it sweeter.

And I have another review since that day, another 5-star review that says:

“I found the author really brought prison life, er, to life, and without stumbling into any horribly hackneyed prison cliches. Certain characters could have easily drifted into stereotype or caricature, but GB manages to just twist her characters that little bit out of the ordinary.

“I admired Ariadne (the epitome of a fish out of water; a woman PO in a prison full of hormonal and deprived men), found her obvious internal conflicts fascinating to watch develop. And a little bit of me wished I actually was Charlie. Same feeling I get when I read Lee Child’s Reacher books – “why can’t I be more like him?” etc. If that’s not escapism, I don’t know what is.”

On the same day I was also the number 2 best seller on the US site – does the happy dance – another thing not to be sniffed at.

So, if you brought “Locked Up” already – THANK YOU!!!

And, if you want to see why Charlie can be compared to Reacher – why not go get your copy?  And if you do – please review, it makes a huge difference to a writer to know what their readers really think of their work.

Thank you!

Please review

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Seven In One

Yesterday was the first time I ever attended a convention as a trader, and it was quite an experience.

This was BristolCon ninth year, and another writer friend of mine, Will MacMillian Jones, had suggested it would be a good place to promote my steampunk stuff.  Well, I’m always up for that kind of thing, especially something that it’s a million miles away from home.

So I contacted the organisers and booked half a table, got to the venue and set up – which took all of ten minutes.  Well, it was never going to take long, I only have one steampunk book written!

Of course, I didn’t want to look like a complete newbie, as well as Shades of Aether, I took copies of two other books to sell; Locked Up, my contemporary crime novel; and Cthulhu Cymreag 2, the anthology I have a story in.  I wasn’t entirely sure that these were appropriate, but one should never miss an opportunity.

Turns out having additional books was a great idea, table would have looked bare without, especially when it turned out that the person how had the other half of the table dropped out at the last minute, and I got to spread across the whole table.

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So I was there, copies of three different books to sell, all I had to do was wait was customers.

Sounds easy, but it never is.  Engaging with people is actually rather difficult.  It was easy to engage with other traders, with them we are all in the same boat, stuck together for however long the day lasts.  Potential customers, however are much harder to catch, especially when you have three books to glance at their covers and your sandwiched between the Oxfam Book Shop with tonnes of second hand books and Grimbold Books, with their many and varied new titles, their cute mascots, and their award – all very impressive.

Still, I engaged enough to sell, though I was a little surprised to find that at a Sci-Fi convention the first thing to sell was Locked Up. By the end of the day I’d sold two Locked Up, two Cthulhu Cymreag and three Shades of Aether. Seven books in one day is not much, but it’s good for what I had to sell.  It also means that I sold enough to cover the cost of the table, which is what you need to do at these things because it’s really about exposure.  I made some good contacts and booked another table for next year, I might even be on a panel or two.

So I will be at the 10th Anniversary BristolCon next year, and hopefully, I’ll have more titles to sell.

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Minor Character Shift

When writing Locked Up, Charlie developed pretty quickly, and soon after I had Teddington too.  But it’s a rare book indeed that survives on just two characters.  Even when you only actually see two, others tend to get referenced.

And since my book is set in an overcrowded prison, I needed lots of characters and I had to know who each of them were.  Some I knew better than others, and some became friends faster than I was expecting.

When I started writing the whole book was to be carried by Charlie; that he would do all the leg work, find out everything.  But the reality of any real investigation is that it is a team effort and Charlie really wasn’t at liberty to go far.

Of course, Teddington was the obvious choice to assist, but even she was limited by her knowledge  (or rather lack of) investigative practices.

Besides, there was Piper.  DCI Piper was always going to be in the book, because procedural checks told me that the police would look into a murder inside a prison.  Originally that was all he was going to do.  Turn up and allow a whitewash.

Then I wrote his opening scene.

Without me really thinking about it, Charlie knew Piper, knew him well. Worked with him.  Admired him. And I knew Charlie.  Charlie wouldn’t admire a bent or even a lazy cop.  He just wouldn’t.  His instincts are good enough he wouldn’t be easily fooled either.

That changed who Piper had to be.  Then I started really thinking about who he was, what he would be like, how he could help.

Suddenly Piper stepped out of the shadows.

And when Piper stepped out, Carlisle stepped out too.  DS Carlisle was a bit of a surprise to me.   Hadn’t expected him to be much more than a couple of “Yes, Sir”s,  but he turned into way, way more.  In fact, it’s Carlisle that keeps surprising me.  I am currently writing book three and Carlisle has taken a path I never expected from a character originally intended to be a nothing more than a procedural prop.

Then there were the other characters; the prisoners and the prison officers.  There had to be enough of them for the population to be realistic, but not so many it confused the reader.   Have to admit I kind of misjudged this one and in the final edit I slashed ten characters out of existence.

Have to also say that there is one minor character in “Locked Up” that I have known for a very long time.  Jack Perkins.  Perkins is a grade A (insert insult of choice – they all work).  He’s  a misogynistic wife beater, a bully of the worse kind.  I know Jack because I know his wife. I wrote two and a half books about her.  They didn’t stand up to scrutiny so you’ll never meet his wife but I’ll always know her and Jack, being the “man” he is, with a back story of jail time, fit perfectly into “Locked Up”, so I used him, it’s what he’d do to any woman he had under his control.  He’s still a minor character, and that is all he’s worth, but I know him very well.

I know many of the other inmates, may be not quite so well, but better than the readers will ever know them. I know what they are in for, their crime, and I know what they are in for, their fate.  The readers won’t necessarily see all that because there are a lot of things that I didn’t put on the page – there is nothing worse than trawling through superfluous information that doesn’t matter.  I also know that I can afford to forget these people now because they aren’t likely to crop up again; unless like Jack they are the piece that fits the puzzle, in which case, knowing the weird way my memory works, I’ll remember them, and if I don’t, they’ll knock on my skull and make me remember them.

Characters really are people, the good ones are real people, and like people, characters can surprise you.  As a writer, I think that makes for better, more interesting characters, which makes for more interesting books, but you, the reader, will be the true judge of that.

While most of the intended to be minor characters stayed that way, Piper and Carlisle did not. That pair have more surprises in store and if you read the Locked series, they may surprise you too.

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