We’re back…

What an amazing holiday, eighteen glorious days away from the grind of life. Eighteen nights full of fine dining, great sights and we also made some excellent new friends to boot. I’m sure you’re all wanting to know how much writing I managed to do. I’m happy to report I wrote every second day, effectively doubling the output of the previous six weeks! That’s right, in two and a half weeks I managed to produce the equivalent of a month and a half. One thing that surprised me were the number of passengers genuinely interested in my writing. I spent many a meal talk about my other books and short stories. I discovered I really enjoy doing this too.

A rough guess I would say I’m now around 30% – 40% through the first draft. I’ve had to put the brakes on as I realised a major linkage between an early scene (I always think in scenes) and the middle of the telling had been missed. Some reworking is required however the story is definitely heading in the right direction. It’s ambitious to say the least (no spoilers) and I know I need to work my white board magic in the coming days before pressing onwards to ensure I don’t make this mistake again.

In other news I woke 2 hours early a week ago with a solid idea for a short story. It’s been a while since I’ve had the inkling to write one of those and I like the feel of this one. Weird I know. I can already imagine the reactions to it. There’s something deliciously satisfying in the knowledge a story, even a short 5,000 word creation will genuinely thrill some people while at the same time annoy others no end. There’s nothing offensive in the story if that’s what you’re thinking, alas I am not at liberty to say more, for now. Once again like my current novel this short story is different to anything else I have ever done.

Dreams can be such wonderful things and as I’ve said before I tend to dream quite regularly, probably 4 out of 7 nights. I love the way the remnants, like a shadow, remain for some time. On waking my conscious mind pieces together the various details to formulate a complete rendition. If I could somehow tap into that thought process directly, stream the telling there and then as fast as it all forms into words, what a book that would be!

Anyhoo I digress. I finished a Clive Cussler the day before we left and ended up reading something from left field during the cruise. As I mentioned we made a number of new friends and one in particular, Doug from the US of A, Seattle to be precise, is a Geologist. I was asking him all sorts of questions about volcanoes and by chance he had a fantastic book on Krakatoa titled ‘Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883′ by Simon Winchester. Out of the blue Doug gave the book to me to read and keep. I couldn’t put it down. Disasters fascinate me, the power of nature is simply staggering and this book had me hook line and sinker. Well written and very engaging, well worth a read.

With a long, complex draft to work through and a tantalising short story rolling about in my head, I have plenty to do.


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News.. News and more News!

Following on from my post on eBooks, this week I purchased a surprise gift for my wife, a Kindle! She has a back injury which causes considerable pain if she reads hardcovers for too long. An avid reader, the super slim lithe device with the e-ink typeface is the perfect solution for her. Wait rewind, I feel I’ve jumped too far ahead. A week ago I managed to win a cruise. For real, no scam. I entered a competition in December and presto, I won an 18 night cruise on the wonderful Celebrity Century for the two of us. 18 days away means plenty of time to read and hence the Kindle.

It’s fair to say we’re very excited right now.

The cruise includes 8 days at sea. That’s 8 full days with no kids as graciously my in-laws are going to host, performing the school and activities run around while we’re away. Those 8 days for me are golden. 8 days without work, phone calls or emails! 8 days with only a laptop and… drum roll…. the freedom to churn away at my entirely new story. Over the Christmas break I’ve slammed my way into a new novel. New characters, plot and genre. How much will I get done? I have no idea. It will certainly be more than I could achieve otherwise as the usual routine of life gets in the way.

I’m really enjoying writing again. Characters are speaking to me and the plot is moving along nicely. Writing is very Zen, an in the moment all absorbing experience and I absolutely love it. What can I say, I like to tell stories and this one is absolutely fascinating no spoilers!

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of launching one of my books online. Just one, to learn the process and have something out there. This would definitely be a second half of the year prospect as right now my focus is solely on the new manuscript. Whichever one I choose will need some further tweaking to package appropriately.

I won’t post when we’re away only because internet at sea costs an arm and a leg. An update as to my progress will appear once we return and maybe a picture or two!

Bon Voyage :)

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eBooks… what me worry?

I’ve heard recently claims a million Kindle’s are sold each week. Interesting, even if this figure proves to be double the reality that’s still a lot of units. How many iPads are under Christmas trees this year? I have a friend who has one and I recently used it for a few hours. I’m a bit of a geek as I work in IT and I must admit I found the device very appealing. In 5 years time I doubt there will be an Australian family home without a quality e-reader of some kind. Beyond the smart phones, something with at least a 7 inch screen and a very good resolution.

From the point of view of an author, digital rights will become everything in terms of book value. Many people see the cheap eBooks in the 99c to $5 range as the end of affluent writers. I don’t and here’s why. The distribution model will / is changing for the better. Book stores are not available 24 x 7. A reader has to go to their local store to purchase a hardcopy. The store has to have the hardcopy and often the price, especially in Australia, can be a bit of a turn off. Think of young adults, teenagers and their relatively limited disposable income. There’s fashion, movies, computer games, latest tech (phone, iPods’ etc). Little left for $20 plus books.

Each generation is becoming increasingly computer savvy. Social media has broadened the scope of their world, removing distance as a barrier to friendships. Word of mouth about a great book has always been a powerful marketing tool and now it’s easier than ever. What parent is going to limit their kids iTunes and Amazon book buying? Not many especially if these shops offer young adult book clubs and the parents can be confident their kids are reading appropriate material.

Coming back to the author’s point of view, book rankings will ensure the most popular authors receive the most sales. 50 cents across a million copies at 99c is still a lot of money! How cool to know a million people have read your book? Where’s the problem with that?

People who read do better in life, period. Grammar and a command of our language is crucial to securing employment. Besides which the brain is like any other muscle, it needs a good flex from time to time.

I say make it easier, as easy as possible to get kids reading more. Establish the habit and we’ll have a better world for it. Embrace eBooks and go with the tide for it’s a surge full of convenient choice for the consumer like never before. I for one plan to enjoy the ride!

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Christmas festivities loom in the not too distant future as November rapidly disappears. This year my family are well organised with most of our Christmas presents already purchased, wrapped and waiting to go under the tree. What does this mean in terms of my writing? Well, hopefully I can spend a fair amount of December working on the Healing Truth Book 2. Here’s hoping I can get the most out of the time in-between various social commitments.

I’ve seen some interesting things happening in the e-book space recently. Penguin Global, a huge publisher are stepping back from offering eBooks to libraries claiming issues with piracy. Google Australia has finally launched. Has anyone purchased an eBook off Google Australia’s service so far? I certainly haven’t. I checked out their website, looks quite simple to use and the prices seemed okay.

This week I finished reading the Area 51 book. Well written and extremely thorough research. I’m so used to reading traditional character driven novels to read something non-fiction that held my interest throughout was fantastic. While I have plenty more books in my to be read pile I am deliberately ignoring them for the next few weeks to make the most of the opportunity before me and during the holidays!

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Time flies…

This year has simply flown by. Here we are in November and to think this time last year I frantically produced up to 3000 words a day for NaNoWriMo. What an experience. I have been asked why I haven’t leapt into Nano again for 2011? Good question. NaNoWriMo takes a fair amount of preparation, commitment, hard work and time. I made a conscious decision a few weeks back to miss this year as my focus lies elsewhere for now. Those of you out there who like to read what I write, I’ve made a commitment to do Nano in 2012. Yes folks, you heard it here first. Jason Gale is doing Nano again in 2012 :)

Writing news, I’ve made a start on The Healing Truth book 2! It’s untitled at present. This is going to be a monster, a little daunting and yet exciting at the same time. I’ve so many loose threads from book 1 to work through. At the same time I find the prospect of creating again very alluring and enjoy playing god as I outline. I have a few things happening, very slowly mind you, with The Healing Truth as 2 months back I shelved Impatience, shifting my focus. A difficult decision as I invested half of 2011 reworking Impatience. My realisation as I encountered a variety of stumbling blocks and ‘size of mountain’ tasks is the following; I’m simply not a good enough editor, yet. The story deserves to be professionally edited, reworked in detail and presently my skills are not up to scratch.

To clarify, shelve does not mean abandon. I’m continuing to edit, learning as I go having done so on The Healing Truth as it requires less complex fixes and is far closer to a finished product. By reworking THT I’m also reconnecting with the characters which will undoubtedly improve book 2.

Reading news, I’ve finished Kim Falconer’s books all 6 of them. Wow, what a ride. These books are so different to anything else I’ve read; it’s been a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend Kim’s work as she is a masterful storyteller and paints a vivid picture. I read a lot of different things. Right now I’m chewing through a book titled ‘Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base’ by Annie Jacobsen. It contains a number of controversial and diverse theories from an entirely different perspective on this sort of thing. Very interesting and an engaging read.

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Update and something new to read…

I realised today I haven’t posted in 5 weeks, that’s way too long :(

So, you might ask, what have I been up to? Quite a lot actually. I took Impatience back to the start, is that a groan I hear from my avid readers? I realised my dialogue needed more work and I hit page 1 again, moving through the story with a slightly different focus. I honestly believe I could find enough issues to do this 100, maybe 1000 times. Other projects are calling, trying to lure me away and to be honest with time ticking by I wonder how much longer this editing / reworking stage will last.

I’m hoping this is the last iteration I need to perform before sending the manuscript out there. How can I, or anyone else for that matter, know when enough is enough? Am I being naive or overly conservative / protective? Insert confused look… Impatience is one book of the many, many more to come. It is unique and honestly I’ve never read anything like it. I believe it deserves to be presented as best I can.

I’ve updated the first chapter link on my writing page. Here is a direct link in PDF format. If you’ve read the first version I hope this snippet shows my efforts have been worthwhile :) It also includes the second chapter, in Antarctica.

Lately my time seems to be getting filled with all manner of social / family / work related activities. It’s become harder to find solid chunks of free time to focus and be productive. I have made a conscious effort to read more of late as well. I’m chewing through books faster than ever, which is great as I have over 10 lined up.

Right now I’m reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It’s good, bordering on great and I’m no expert so maybe it actually is? I have found this book quite hard to put down. 2 second rap; a regular guy, bit of a nobody, finds himself transitioned into the London underworld. He finds a subterranean smorgasbord of the imagination with it’s complicated characters and diverse motivations. Fun rollicking stuff with a surprisingly moving plot.

I have 3 Kim Falconer novels hot on the tail of this one and also the second in Mary Victoria’s ‘Chronicles of the Tree’ series. So much to read and so little time. Decisions, decisions! After I consume these 4 deliciously yummy treats, I still have another Bourne series and a few Stephen King’s I picked up on the cheap.

It’s Sunday afternoon and probably the best time for me to be effective. That’s enough blah blah, time to get to work.


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The future of book sales…

Most of you would have read or heard of Senator Nick Sherry, our Federal Minister for Small Business, statements concerning bookstores. Apparently he believes bookshops as we know them today will be a thing of the past in 5 years time. I’ve thought about this on and off for a week now and I must say from a certain point of view he is probably leaning in the right direction.

I strongly support local Australian authors, we have amazing talent in this country and yes of late I’ve occasionally purchased books online. This is for a few reasons, one the price is often better, not really enough to sway me alone, perhaps a few dollars. I know a jacketed book means the author is going to receive their hard earned royalty either way so online is very tempting. When I’m in the buying mind set, online sellers seem to carry stock and I want that book, right now. Insert image of petulant child here if you like.

With my local Angus and Robertson disappearing twice now I’ve looked for specific books at my Dymocks, the only stores left at this point in time, only to find the books I am after were not on the shelf. I’ve asked the staff and they’ve offered to order them in, a process taking 2 weeks time. The child wants the book now and is prepared to pay. Online I’ve sourced books in 3 – 5 days. On this basis it’s hard to resist the allure of clicking the mouse to add to cart!

When I shop I know what I’m after. I rarely wander the shelves looking for something new. I read reviews online and I talk to friends. Word of mouth is always the best way to sell good books. I know there are plenty of people who don’t work like this, they’re happy to wander aimlessly. Browsing online is not the same as being able to pick a book up off a shelf and perform that strange ritual us readers do of assessing a potential read in 20 or 30 seconds.

Online you might see the cover, read the blurb, all same so far however you cannot feel the book. The weight, the font size. I can’t stand books with really small fonts, even though I know the costs of producing a larger hardcover or those large paperbacks that are almost a hardcover; I’ve no idea what they are called? Anyway, my point is many paperbacks have small fonts and my eye sight isn’t what it used to be. I have to really like a book, say Magician by Feist to bother with a small font. How can the purchaser know with any confidence a paperback purchased online will be an acceptable font? How will the book feel in their hands?

I’m deliberately not talking about e-books in this post as I take the Senator’s comments specific to material books, paper and glue and the printed word. Bookstores carry costs of rent, which in shopping centers seems to be skyrocketing of late, staff, advertising, franchisee fees etcetera. Online there is the cost of the website plus the merchant engine and finally wholesale and shipping. Usually the actual stock logistics is outsourced or maybe it’s a Mum and Dad operation for now, who knows. No offense but from the buyers point of view who cares. All I want as the consumer is my product, reliably delivered and in good condition.

I noticed some books I recently purchased online from an Australian website actually shipped from New Zealand. The delivery was 5 days and they arrived safe and sound. Quality product for a great price in top condition. That’s all I wanted, one satisfed customer.

The quandary for bricks and mortar bookstores is always going to be quality of staff. My take on this is increased rents mean they have to cut corners, hire in young people for a lower wage because unfortunately that’s all they will be able to afford. How can a business with high costs compete on the same product when their competition, online sales, has minimal costs? The answer is they can’t unless they offer something more, actual service and experienced staff who know their own product and can direct consumers in their purchasing.

I’m sure I don’t know all the angles on this. I’m just one consumer however my guess is we won’t see another Angus and Robertson size competitor enter the marketplace. I think the Senator is thinking in the right direction, an Australian Amazon service will fill the void encompassing both e-books and hardcopy perhaps with a loyalty program each10th book free or whatever works.

It sure sounds like a safer bet than starting a business with so many costs weighing it down, forcing the price of books up.

Anyway, this is way too long a rant… I just felt like getting all that off my chest…

I look forward to your comments… :)


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Slow and Steady

I’ve been steadily working on line edits as time slips by. I’m just over a quarter through Impatience and I must say its a slow process. The weird thing is I’m comfortable with that. Each page feels new again and when tweaked a little closer to finished. It’s very satisfying to see the page count click over.

I heard today all of the remaining Borders stores across Australia and New Zealand will soon be closing. I wonder if any new players will enter the book selling market or will online sales dominate?

I’m reading Conn Iggulden’s Wolf of the Plains, the story of Genghis Khan. I must admit I wasn’t sure if it would be my kind of book. Wow, was I wrong! It’s action packed and so real, makes me feel like I am there with the characters, amazing. Better yet it’s a trilogy!

A few weeks ago I won review of the month on www.thenile.com.au for my review of Kim Falconer’s Path of the Stray. Long story short, I have purchased 4 books for $19 as I won a $50 voucher (total cost $69). How cool is that!


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Jumped off the wheel…

Okay, time to fess up. Last week this mouse jumped off the wheel. That’s right I took a break!

My respite lasted four days and I didn’t edit a word. I think I needed it. I now feel re-invigorated and fresh. I did a little yesterday, line edits on hardcopy and it felt comfortable and certainly not a chore.

On a different note I’ve almost finished my current book, Robert Ludlum ‘The Bancroft Strategy’. As he passed away in 2001, it’s written by an unaccredited Ghost Writer. The credits mention the book’s derived from a concept of his, which is interesting if true and how would I know if it isn’t? The novel’s well written and certainly engaging, so does it really matter either way? Not to me.

I have the very talented Mary Victoria’s ‘Tymon’s Flight’ Chronicles of the Tree Book One, next on my must read list. I met Mary briefly at Worldcon last year and she is a wonderful person and by all accounts an amazing writer. I also have a few books a neighbour recommend and has graciously lent me.


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Busy Bee

Time’s flying by and I’m editing each and every day. Impatience in its present format has blown out the page count. I recently adjusted the page layout to reflect the industry standard of larger margins on both sides sufficient for handwritten comments. At 120,000 words, the manuscript is hovering around 480 pages. I’ve completed my mark-up on 95 pages and to date applied the first 70 odd of these to the master document. With 385 pages to go, it’s fair to say I won’t exactly be finishing my edit anytime soon. Such is life!

To be specific, in this revision cycle I’m aiming to achieve a few key objectives:

Continuity – Some sections are loosely constructed and require tightening of the text. I have entire sub plots, while interesting, don’t really have a direct effect on my set of core characters. Down the virtual hole they go! 120K is a bit fat for a first novel anyway and I’m aiming to end up around 90K once done.

Grammar – As I wrote this book in 2009 I still didn’t really have my head around some of the core grammatical concepts. I should probably be embarrassed or something about this but it is simply the truth. Too many years away from school and the technical rules of good writing. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years and I’m applying line edits to address these issues. Fresh eyes highlight so many issues I had never seen before.

Characters – I’m adding little snippets of character depth and more introspection as this is clearly lacking in the current version. I’m giving the characters more chance to shine and also to express their emotions.

So there you go, I’m focused on a few specific factors, not trying to stretch too far while ensuring what I do achieve is a defined set of improvements. I have pages and pages of feedback from my initial alpha readers to absorb and apply where relevant. You all know who you are. Thanks each and every one of you as your advice has been fantastic.

I’ve also recently researched the option of engaging a professional editor and or manuscript appraisal service. This might be something I do once I churn through and yes I’m slogging through a churning process, where time is directly proportional to pages processed, pure maths really. Anyway once I get through the remaining 385 pages, paying a nominal fee for some professional guidance is probably a wise next step.

I certainly am not arrogant enough to believe my developing editing skills are sufficient to make my work presentable as a saleable product. I simply don’t have the experience to be able to do so at this stage.

For now it’s all about finding windows of time to do my thing and sticking with it. I’m feeling much more positive about Impatience as I chisel away at the rough stone, my draft version, to produce something far better than my initial effort. It feels right and justified to do so as if I’m doing justice to my characters and the story. Hard to explain in a way and yet those who know the story continue to tell me it has merit and to go for it!

Interestingly the intuitive creative part of me is still working away in the background. I keep producing new concepts to work with. Occasionally I’m writing some of these down for future projects. I recently had a solid idea appear out of the blue for part 2 of The Healing Truth. I love it when that happens. I get excited at the prospect of writing this, once the churn is over, definitely not before.

One thing’s for sure, all this work whether writing or editing is improving my skills and that is priceless…


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