Blog on theBus pt 58 (what makes a good book?)

Good day bus bloggers and train tattlers (you may define your own category), I hope your journey to work is passing slowly enough that you’ll have time to finish this post before you reach the gates of purgatory (or work, whichever comes first).

What makes a good book?

Not such an easy question when you really think about it; and I really want you to think about it. Ultimately, we’re all different (even twins like different stories) and all enjoy different stories. So how can one define what a good story is?

Impossible, right?

Well, if that’s true, how come your Rowlings, Browns and Pattersons make so much money from their manipulation of words? If we really are all different and like different stories, what makes one more popular than another?

Let’s take a step back: it’s far too early in the day to start consulting psychology reference books.

Let’s look at you.

You’re sat / stood / lying down (delete as appropriate) reading this post. You’re an individual: You work (or not), you earn money (or not), you read books (or not) and you read this blog (though I’ve no idea why!!!). You’re an individual, right?

And presumably you read (that or you really have stumbled to the wrong site!). So what do you think makes a good book?

I really want to know.

For me, a good book is one that I don’t want to stop reading. I enjoy a book that compels me to keep turning the pages even when I know it’s late and I should go to sleep. I enjoy reading crime thrillers (hence why I write in this genre).

I don’t like too many characters. I absolutely loved Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code but was less keen on his Inferno. Though both were great books, there was something about the first that I enjoyed more than the second.

But what was it?

I’m not smart enough to figure it out.

But youYou… You seem to like my stories. But why?

What is it that you have enjoyed?

I need to know. If I know what my audience enjoy I’ll be able to write it.

So, this message goes out to you. You. You!

What makes a good book to you?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address (or via email if you prefer) please.

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Advertisements

Blog on the Bus pt 57 (the plot thickens)

You know, it always amuses me when people say “You’re a writer? Oh, I always wanted to write a book…but I don’t know what I’d write about!”

It amuses me because I was one of those people. I always had this voice in the back of my mind saying “You should write a book!” I ignored the voice for as long as I could through a combination of alcohol and prescription medication but still it persisted:

“You should write a book!”
“But what about?” I would argue.
“Write what you know,” the voice told me.

Eventually, I relented and decided to give it a go. I’d tried before of course and had failed. I wondered if I could do it…

So, how does one judge success? I suppose it depends on your point of view. At the time of writing Integration, I judged success by how many words I could get on a page (I should point out that this is an appalling measure of success and would strongly discourage you from using it!) I was delighted to write a one hundred thousand word manuscript with no real idea how I had arrived there. I remember writing the first four thousand words and having a very rough idea in mind of how I wanted it to go. But that was it: it was all in my head! To say that writing Integration was more luck than judgement would be an understatement.

I knew when I endeavoured to write again that I wanted a greater structure and so physically typed a plot statement for Remorse. All it covered was what would happen on each ‘day’ in the book but didn’t break it down chapter-by-chapter. It was a better way of doing things but still left me scratching my head on occasion wondering what I should write next.

So, I evolved again and by the time I was ready to write Redemption, the eagerly anticipated follow up to Integration, I had a plot that broke down what should happen in each chapter and it was very easy to write. Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but at the time I was writing blind; there is so much help and support out there from various authors (both ‘indie’ and ‘traditional’) that it’s easy to lose sight of what is beneficial.

Writing a plot these days, for me, is a three month process and a good plot can be upwards of 10k words before I even type the first line of a manuscript. But it works: I managed to write my latest potential masterpiece in two months!

I’ve just started writing the plot for a new project. The writing won’t start until January so there’s plenty of time for the plot to develop in my head and on the page. This one is set over twelve hours and so the plot will need to be very detailed as I’ll need to know exactly what is going on with all the characters at any given minute. It’ll be a challenge but one I’m relishing!

So, the next time you hear that voice in the back of your mind saying “You should write a book!”, don’t challenge it, don’t argue, just say “Yes!” If I can do it, anyone can!

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 56 (finding fun in France)

Salut, bonjour, hello and hiya! I’m back from my far flung fortnight in France and up to my usual tricks (well I’m on the train to my job in London).

So, what have I learned?

> My grasp of the French language is better than I remembered.
> Driving in Europe is not quite as heart-in-mouth as I had feared it would be (there was the odd scary moment but that’s what happens when you drive with your eyes closed)
> Flan Parisian is thick custard in pastry and absolutely delicious!!!
> There is nothing wrong with €1.50 wine (grabbed ten 1l bottles for €15!). It was very drinkable and I shall be enjoying it till Christmas.

I spent the two weeks relaxing, drinking, eating cakes and proof-reading. You’ll be pleased to hear I excelled in each of these areas. I managed to finish draft two of ‘Trespass’ my next project. It will be off to my team of proofreaders in the next week and I will publish it on 01 December. What’s more I began work on a new 15k word novelette, which I’ll publish at some point in October.

As any struggling-to-be-heard-over-the-crowd (too many hyphens?) indie author, I know what it is to be racked with self-doubt (if the acne-ridden teenager doing work experience in the publisher’s office doesn’t like it then it must be crap, right?). I’ve now self-published five novels and three novelettes in the three years since I set off on this road to writer-dom, with the two projects already mentioned due before the year is out. Surely there’s a reason I’ve completed all these projects? Right? I mean, surely (don’t call me Shirley!)

What I actually learned in France was:

Your Rowlings, Shakespeares and Browns can capture the majority of the reading world and enjoy their millions of pounds in offshore bank accounts. Whilst I would love to join that club, I have something they don’t: I have the minority audience, the handful of people who defy the pimply teenagers in the publisher’s office and actually enjoy my work! That’s something JK, William and Dan will never have. They are my loyal fan base and the fact that I’ve entertained them and you means I’ve achieved my writing goal!

I set out on this road to leave my name in history. I guess I can consider that box ticked.

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 55 (it really is a global world, right?)

Good morning tube-trekkers, bus-bloggers and patient-pedestrians.

I started a new job last week. I can’t tell you what it is (just pretend I’m Jason Bourne or something, will you?) but it is part of a global organisation (how many of you are picturing me stroking a white cat at this point?). I have always known I was part of a global group but I don’t think I ever truly understood what that meant until Wednesday when I attended a team meeting via video phone. I was in London, there were 3 in Mexico, 2 in the USofA, 2 in Hong Kong and 1 in Brazil. We were all talking about the same thing but in our own interpretation of the English language. Being a global organisation, this was not as difficult as you might assume (SPECTRE never had a problem, did they?). But it was the very fact that several corners of the world had come together to communicate that really opened my eyes to the possibilities that technology brings to us (did someone at the back just utter “D’uh”?).

I appreciate I might be a bit slow in reaching this obvious insight, but there’s no time like the present to learn new concepts (unless you’re my mother who still can’t remember how to make a call from her brick-like mobile phone). Wednesday’s meeting reminded me just how important technology, particularly the kind used for communication, is. We are blessed with Twitter, Facebook, SKYPE, LinkedIn and the rest but how many of us truly embrace it? The clue is in the title: World Wide Web. Why are not more of us using it to reach out to others across the globe?

Many authors (for that is what I pretend to be when I’m out of the office) will blog about the means they use to build their social network and this usually revolves around a kind of paying it forward strategy where you scratch someone’s back in the hope that they’ll return the favour. More often than not this seems to work relatively successfully. I take my hat off to anyone who can find the time to scratch all the backs out there to indirectly promote their work. I’ve been fortunate to have my spinal itches caressed by others and have endeavoured to return the favour but have struggled to join this group of successful indie authors who reach out and use their fingernails for more than just chewing.

Ultimately, it’s easy to be a writer but it’s bloody difficult to be a successful one. The writing community is warm, kind, gentle and supportive (certainly in my experience), however, the publishing industry is competitive, harsh and not something I would wish upon my worst enemy (even those bastards who called me names in school!). To be a successful writer requires 50% good story and 150% brawn, effort, back-scratching and sheer damn luck (maths skills not so essential thank goodness!). So where does that leave indie author Stephen Edger (that’s me in case you’d forgotten)?

In a dog-eat-dog world I fear that I will only wind up in someone else’s toothpick but despite my reservations about what the future holds I can rest safe in the knowledge that I’ve published 5 of my stories and in doing so I’ve left my digital footprint on the world.

So let’s all raise a toast (orange juice or Champagne – you choose) to those embracing the World Wide Web and hope that we don’t get left too far behind.

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 54 (should I rename the blog to “talk on the train”?)

Bonsoir dear bus bloggers,

Today’s blog finds yours truly aboard a train on my way back from the Big Smoke (a.k.a. the City a.k.a. Landaan town) for today was my first day in a new job. I can’t tell you what I’m now doing as it’s top secret (very hush-hush, wink-wink-nudge-nudge) but it does require the treacherous train trail to our nation’s capital.

Said journey is approximately 3hrs door-to-door and starts with a 5 a.m. alarm call. Hopefully you can begin to appreciate just how knackered I feel as the trundling train traverses the tracks to the terrace (I live in a terraced house and couldn’t think of another word for home beginning with a “t”). For those of you who’ve never made it to London, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned today:

1. Train stations are lonely places at 06.30 in the morning.
It’s true, nobody talks to one another. I tried to initiate a couple of conversations but got the strangest looks (it seems no-one wanted to know about my published works – hard to believe I know!). Eventually the Guard asked me to either be quiet or to leave.

2. An hour and a half in the ‘Quiet Zone’ is time well spent.
I recently purchased one of those Windows tablets so that I would be able to continue my early-morning-pre-work-typing sessions that have served me so well for so long. Today I managed to type 1800 words of the current work in progress. Not much left to write for draft-1 which makes me very happy.

3. There are TOO many people in London
This isn’t so much a complaint as an observation. In the building I’ve been in all day (remember, I can’t reveal its location without taking a contract out on you) there were so many people who didn’t know me but didn’t seem to even flutter an eyelid in my direction. It was quite a change from what I’m used to.

4. Tubes are hot places when they’re full of people and stopped in a tunnel
Alas this is true and something I’m going to have to get used to. Despite growing up in London I still anticipate the tube to be crawling with Fagin’s Artful Dodger(s) and so I spent the journey covering every orifice from prying hands. I survived (I think!)

5. It’s not as bad as some people make out
New York, without doubt, is my absolute favourite city and I would happily move my mini-family there if the opportunity arose. That said, I think London gets an unwarranted bad reputation and needs to be given a chance. Of course my view may change as the weeks progress but right now it seems pretty good.

So, what have I learned from my first day in London? It’s not so bad but it takes some getting used to.

This journey is going to become more regular so I am proposing (NOT marriage) to change the name of this blog to the “talk of the train” but am putting the proposal out to YOU (my followers and digital-friends) to make the decision for me (“delegation is the key to great management” according to my new boss). Let me know if the name should change and I’ll oblige.

Anyway, that’s enough from me (he said, stifling a yawn), I’m off to bed in a minute to do it all again tomorrow!

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 53 (what’s the story, morning glory?)

Good day to you bus blog beneficiaries. You’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of spare seats on the bus this morning so we shouldn’t be disturbed. I’m also pleased to say that the bus was on time this morning, which I always see as a positive portent of a wonderful week to come (try saying that after a couple of pints!)

I’m guessing you’re wondering the meaning of today’s blog title? I know I’m not in the habit of quoting from the brothers-Gallagher when I undertake my bus-blathering, but there’s a good reason today.

Most writer-wannabes will reach a point in the prose-preparing-process (my tongue is starting to ache; it’s twisted so much) where they have to choose a title for their project. Some will have a title from the outset and stand by it even as the plot develops. Others will refuse to even think of a title until they have typed the final full stop. Some will even be struck by a flash bolt of inspiration midway through a project. When the inspiration comes doesn’t really matter so long as it comes. Alas, for some the inspiration doesn’t come…

This brings me back to Noel and Liam’s effort. What’s the story, morning glory? is a great song and I will confess to being a bit of an Oasis-officianado. I’m a big fan of their music and listening to their albums brings back good memories. That said, I don’t like a number of the titles to their songs as they are nonsensical!

It’s a pet hate of mine when those creative types come up with utter tosh and claim that those who don’t like them ‘just don’t get it!’

I’m sorry, but what’s a wonderwall anyway?

It’s the same in books and movies. Why spend so long developing a project title if you end up alienating potential consumers because we ‘just don’t get it!’ I mean, Stephen King’s IT had absolutely nothing to do with computers! As for Snakes on a Plane, don’t even get me started!!!

What is the answer, then? It’s easy really: choose a title that people will understand, which links to the plot of the book whilst maintaining an air of mystery.

Easy, right?

Okay, well maybe not but that should be the aim.

I had a working title when I commenced the current project but I knew from the outset it wouldn’t remain. I then came up with a second title that I hoped would grow on me but it just wasn’t right. This week that imaginary flash bolt struck and the perfect title dawned. I won’t tell you what it is until nearer publication but I can assure you it meets the required criteria listed above.

I can confirm that the project will not be called ‘Vichyssoise: the Temptation of Remembering the Green Cross Code‘ which would be ridiculous!

Until next time, happy reading!

Stephen

P.S. feel free to plagiarise the ‘Vichyssoise…’ title.

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here or via stephenedger.com)

… so which is it, punk?… ye can’t read?… or ye can’t count?… #TBSU…

Hands up if my friend Seumas’ view has never entered your mind.

Seumas Gallacher

… I’ve seen Al Pacino in the Godfather trilogy, arguably the Mother of All Mafia-style movies, EVER… admired De Niro in his various hard-man roles… been dazzled with a five-decade string of Jimmy Bond, Dubble-Oh-Slur films… and it occurs to me, that I’ve NEVERseen any of them in scenes that most of we mere mortals have to endure… case in point, triggered by a Facebook item I read earlier (I’m still in the ostracizing jail of these nice people by the way) …it instantly brought back a deluge of mem’ries… the blood-pressue-upward inducing episodes that play out daily at yer nearest supermarket checkout lines… ye’re in a hurry and pop yer three, maybe four items at most into the wee plastic hand-basket, the one with the awkward carrying handles… and make a beeline for the till checkout lady at the end exit row… ye can’t miss it… above…

View original post 265 more words