Tuesday 29 November 2016

Questions From Readers - November 2016 - Part Two

And I'm here to answer some more of your questions. I'm hoping to get to the last ones by the end of the year, but of course, it all depends on health, spoons and all of that jazz. So without any further ado, let's get to the second batch of questions!

Why do you call yourself a disabled writer? Isn't it better to not let your conditions/disability define you?
This is something I've been asked before, but I'll go over it again because I don't think it can ever be said too much. I am disabled. And while a lot of people will say that I am a writer/author first, I am both. There has always been a lot of talk from many different people - those with and without a disability for example - about what word should be used to describe people like me. I identify more with the word disabled than I do with the phrase person with a disability. I think in that regard it's down to each individual disabled person to decide which works for them. As for the second part of your question, when you're chronically ill or disabled you often get told to not let it define you. And for a long time I agreed with that, but here's the thing. It does define me. Not because I "let it" but simple because that's how it works. It has a long term effect on the way I live my life and because of that I can't remove it from my identity. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing! Again, this is all my personal view on the matter. There are some people who would prefer not to be defined by their conditions, but I'm not one of them. It doesn't mean I'm wrong or they're wrong, just that we view our lives differently.

Do you have any regrets in your career?
Yes! I just did a video about how I regret not waiting for better covers before I pressed published. It's something that has bitten me in the arse and because of that, I am a big advocate for new authors making sure that not only does the content of your book be the best they can be, but also the wrapping too! You can check out the video here. 

Are you nervous about saying goodbye to Tara?
Yes, very much so! In the fifteen years I have been writing, I have been kept company with Tara and watched her grow from the awkward character in First Touch to the character she is in the final book Eighth Ending. She has been my constant companion through writing and it will be hard to end her story. It's been coming for a while and I always knew there would be an end to her story. I also am excited about starting my new series, and getting to know a brand new character whose end I don't yet know.

Have you always told stories? Or was it just a matter of circumstance?
I have, from a very young age, been a story teller. It was something I excelled at at school, and my parents would tell me often that I have an over active imagination, and the way they phrased it, it wasn't good! However, it was always something I enjoyed, and that enjoyment as only grown as I've gotten older. When I have the opportunity to do this with my life, it seemed like such a natural choice.

How do you deal with self-doubt? I have problems with keeping going when I have a bad day and feel like deleting the whole thing. Is that just me?
Not at all! My friends will tell you they've had to talk me down about that kind of stuff. There was a point recently when I was convinced that the eighth Dying Thoughts book needed to be trashed and just rewritten from scratch. I was so close to doing it when a friend of mine told me to step away from the computer. She was right and looking back at the manuscript now I realise that a ton of the problems I see are because I'm only reading a part of it when I write. If I went back and read the whole thing, I'd spot things that needed to be changed, but that's what editing is for. And I'm not talking about the professional edit either. When you finish your first draft, you're going to have to go back and do a bunch of rewrites before it even makes it to an editor. And that's okay. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say a non zero number of people have to do the same with their first drafts. The point right now is to tell yourself the story by writing it down. Once that's done, then you can go back and fine tune it.
As for dealing with self-doubt, like many other creative people, writers have moments (many many moments) when we start to think that out work isn't all that good and because of that, it's pointless to continue. I deal with it, by telling myself that I just have to get through the first draft and that to do that, I'm gonna have to live with that gremlin named Neil that tells me all the many things I am doing wrong. It's not easy, but writing isn't easy. I wish you the best of luck with finding a way that works for you.

How do you write a blurb that tells enough of the story to get the readers attention, but doesn't give away big plot points?
I'm actually one of the few (or so it seems to me) that doesn't really struggle with writing a blurb. I started writing by going from the blurb to writing the story around it and that seems to have worked for me long term. There are times when I find myself struggling with them, but that's when I get help from other people. The main things you want to remember are that you're supposed to be painting a picture with words as to why someone should read your books. Since I write mostly crime and paranormal, I always try to end the blurb with the hint of a climax. That way it hooks the reader in and allows them to then see for themselves how I deliver that promise. My advice to you would be to look at other books in your genre and go from there. It should give you some idea of what plot points to include without giving away too much. Good luck!

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
I do the majority of my writing at my desk in my office. It's huge and has pretty much everything I need to be comfortable and able to write for as long as possible. I also have a small over the bed desk up in my bedroom where I can work on my tablet, but generally speaking if I'm sick enough to be stuck on bed rest, then I'm not writing at all.

In Destination: Unknown the town of where the story took place is explicitly mentioned, but yet in Dying Thoughts, Blackout and other books, the town is never mentioned, why is that? Or are they all in the same place?
The reason Destination: Unknown explicitly states where the characters are is because of the history of my home town that ties into the story. I haven't ever really felt the need to do the same in any of my other books, except for Waiting On You. In my head, the stories take place in the same town, my home town. However, I left it like that because I didn't want to limit the reader's imagination should they feel like their home town is a better place. I know that some writers are very clear on where the story is happening, but it's never felt needed for me and so I've never had to actually do that.

What do you do when you get a bad review? I got my first 1 star and am devastated by it :(
First I remember that it's okay to get upset by a bad review. Talk to a friend or someone who can help you work through the feelings that come from a 1 star, but do that away from the review itself. It may also help to know that everyone gets 1 star reviews and it does not mean that your work isn't good. It just means that to that particular reader, it wasn't their favourite and that's completely normal. You can't please everyone and fiction, like art is very subjective as to who likes what and why they like it. Even five star reviews won't always like the same thing. 
Once you've had some time to calm down, read it again and see if there's anything constructive you can take out of it, but never, ever, ever reply or engage with the reviewer! The reviews on a book, while nice to get and read are not for us, the authors, they are for other readers to help them decide whether they might like our work. And it could be that what that 1 star review said they hated, will be what someone else is looking for. That's a good thing.

Will you start doing the writing advice pieces on your blog again? Or do you plan to mostly keep that to your booktube channel?
I do plan to continue them, I had a huge backlog that meant I didn't need to split my time in writing more, but now that I've posted all of those, I do plan to keep doing updates here as often as I can. 

Other than the Darker event, are you planning on doing any other signings?
I'm hoping to do a few others, but as of yet none have been confirmed. I would love to do some signings at libraries, but am waiting to hear back. Once I know, you guys will be the first I tell!

How much outlining do you do before you start the book? Any tips on how to keep it all organised?
I do, what feels like to me, a lot of outlining, but yet compared to other authors I know, is bare bones. I think it's better to start with too much and then as you refine and learn how you write, cut back or do more depending on what you find works best. I stay organised simply because my health means I have to carve out time to do all of these things otherwise I will find myself getting lost, frustrated, over worked and sick and that's never fun.

Why are you always wearing oxygen in your videos? 
Simple, because breathing isn't optional and my lungs haven't upgraded to take the wireless kind of oxygen.

Thanks for all your questions! I will post the next batch in the beginning of December! If you have a question you'd like me to answer you can email me at bugbooks@virginmedia.com.

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