Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why I'm enjoying the adventure of writing romantic fiction

In a break with tradition I’m going to talk about writing on this blog.

For the last couple of months I’ve been writing my first proper work of fiction – a romance novel. In the past I’ve always leaned toward writing non-fiction (including a whole book last year), but I was starting to feel like I was in a bit of a rut. I’ve really enjoyed writing things like ‘Youth of Goan’ and ‘A history of Junk Culture’ on a kind of instalment plan, but I wanted a new challenge.

I decided to write a romantic fiction novel because although it’s a genre that is (apparently) sneered at by literary snobs it is loved by millions around the globe (including me). Anyone who is familiar with anything I’ve written in the past will be aware that I have always favoured writing about the lighter side of life, and what’s lighter or more positive than love? Love affects everyone, sometimes whether they want it to or not. So after devouring some divine Katy Fforde and admiring an Adele Parks I planned my first novel.

At first I was daunted by the scale of the task before me, but an inspiring book called ‘Successful Novel Plotting’ helped me plan like I’ve never planned before. So here I am today; I’m about 80% of the way through the first draft of ‘Why you’re unhappy’ and having a whale of a time. I’ve found a great writing buddy in the shape of Jenny Lock and the habit we’ve formed of kicking each other up the bum (to make sure we stick with it) has been a big help.

So what have I learnt? I’ve learned that all fiction is valid no matter who writes it, what style it is or what genre. I’ve learned that the way I write long fiction is totally different to the style I use in articles, reviews, online or in emails. It’s also become clear to me that no matter what happens in my life I MUST write at least 100 words every day to stay in touch with the characters I have created. Obsession is the name of the game; I’m sure my wife and family will be relieved when I’ve finished this book so that I can start talking about something else. This book has consumed me; my characters are real and (at least in my head) the events within actually took place.

Oh, and finally (much to my surprise) I’ve figured out that I can write really early in the morning. Previously the fact that I’m such a night owl made me assume I’d be useless at being creative first thing, but I don’t think it’s been too bad. Judge for yourself, this blog post was written at 7am!

1st June 2010
I have sent off sample manuscripts to a few agents, I'll keep you posted on progress (or lack of). The synopsis has changed a fair bit, you can read the latest version here -

You can also follow my progress on my twitter page here -

Monday, March 01, 2010

Why should anyone pay to hear your band's new album?

Originally published in Ipswich 24 Magazine February 2010 edition.

When a new band forms there’s tons of fun to be had choosing a name, having photos taken and of course writing brand new songs – works of musical craft that wouldn’t have existed in the universe if you and your friends had created them. When those new songs are trimmed and polished it’s time to commit them to disc. Now it’s the time for your new band to enter the mystical realm that is the recording studio. After some considerable time spent (and significant expenditure laid out) your band leaves the studio proudly beaming because you’ve done it; you’ve created something for the ages.

But once you’ve recorded these songs what do you need to do to start trying to recoup some money from them? MySpace is great for getting your songs heard but it’s not directly going to make you any cash. iTunes and Amazon MP3 are also great but unless you’re an established act your sales are going to be low. So what do you do?

Some bands are now treating their MP3s as promotional material in much the same way as they do flyers - the logic being that the more people that hear your songs then the more people you’ll have at your shows. It’s a theory I can see the logic of – my own band (ZEEB?) have just released our third album and while we’ve sold a respectable number of CD copies so far it’s amazing just how many more people know our songs. We’re not professional musicians (ha!) so it stands to reason that we’re more excited that people know our songs than we are about epic CD sales.

So what are you going to do with your new recordings? Are you going to try and sell them on a CD for a tenner or are you going to give them away for free? Personally I’m enjoying selling a few copies of the new ZEEB album to folk who want the full artwork package (it was designed in Indonesia by Tremor), but I’m at peace with the fact that most people will copy their friend’s album and download our songs from file sharing sites for free.

Of course now this means you must visit