Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Haven't Been Quiet, I've Just Been Away

Hey folks, hope you're all well. :)

I'm sure some of you have noticed that I haven't posted here in a while...

The reason is that I'm trying out a website via Weebly, so for most of the updates you've been wondering about, head on over. You can also join my newsletter. :)

BIG things happening, folks! :)

Be EPIC!

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Website, a Short Story Sale and What I'm Reading

Hey everyone, hope you're all well. :)

Wanted to let you know that I've gone ahead and created a free website on Weebly - you can check it out here, and please feel free to let me know what you think. :)

The website also includes a new blog, and what I'll do is post an excerpt from that blog here, with am link to take you through. So, here are the links:

http://davedeburgh.weebly.com/the-writers-life/what-and-why-im-reading

in which I talk about what I'm reading, and

http://davedeburgh.weebly.com/the-writers-life/taraab-and-terror-in-zanzibar-accepted-for-african-monsters

in which I share the news of one of my stories being accepted for publication! :)

So remember to add the website to your bookmark-lists! :)

 http://davedeburgh.weebly.com/

Be EPIC!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Beta-Reader's Response to a scene from Book 2

Had to share this with you all. :)

Dave!!! Page 128. You bastard!
Posted by Nerine Dorman on Sunday, 7 June 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

What I've Learned from Writing Two Novels

Hey everyone, hope you're all well. :-)

Yep, in case you missed it, I have finished writing the first draft of my second novel. :-) It came in at around 137K and took me a while!

I began writing it in January of 2014 and managed around 20K before I hit some kind of writer's-anxiety wall - felt like I'd fallen out of the bus and ended up in a neighborhood that I'd never visited before and knew nothing about.

It wasn't that I hadn't planned / plotted out the events of the second novel (and book 3) - I had. Looking back now, I realize that what was actually keeping me from writing Book 2 was the fact that I was terrified of it.

You see, one of the first things I learned as a writer is that writing will exhaust you, emotionally and mentally. And the second thing I learned (after that 20K-struggle) is that we put ourselves under immense pressure, especially when writing what will be a trilogy.

Book 1 took shape over the course of around 9 years. 9 YEARS. The actual writing of it took a year and a month. But I'd fucked around with the plot, the characters and the world for almost a decade. I didn't have that luxury when it came to writing Book 2.

I'm no Ishiguru. Book 1 was my debut (as well as the first novel I'd ever written to completion) and as a writer at that level you're only as memorable in a reader's memory as the time it takes you to write your second novel. So, on one side I had readers asking how the writing of Book 2 was going, when would they get to read it, etc. and on the other hand (being a bookseller and a reader) I was intensely cognizant of how long a reader's patience lasts before they put aside an author who is taking too long to write his / her next book.

Understand, my publisher hadn't given me a deadline - I had given myself a deadline, and that deadline's weight increased with every passing week that I didn't write. So, when September 2014 came around and I was at around 25K, I shat myself and forced myself to wake up and sit down and write.

And I did - for months I would write Monday to Friday, from around 11PM to 1AM, while working full time and making sure I made time for my personal life, too. I finished the book, yes, but I'll be lying if I say it didn't take a toll on me. 5 hours of sleep a day makes for very lazy stay-at-home weekends. I did hit a body-rhythm, of sorts, in that I began to get used to sleeping less - once I finished the book, however, I spent something like 4 days sleeping until I woke up. :-)

So, the pressure we as writers put ourselves under is as much about deadlines as it is psychological, and even though Book 2 is now at my publisher and I'm taking a break from the trilogy (at least for another month), I can tell you honestly that writing Book 1 was way easier. Saying to yourself that you've begun something and now have to follow through and end it is entirely and massively different from knowing it and understanding it. :-)

I have to admit to a certain anxiety when I think about writing Book 3 - and I know that anxiety will always be there and will always return when I sit down to write every novel that I will write. You have no idea how long I've just browsed author-updates on Facebook and smiled (or groaned in sympathy), because it's helped to show me that I'm not the only one going through this particular anxiety.

So, that's another thing you (writer, whether published or not) can look forward to: stressing your tushy off about something that mostly exists in your head. ;-)

Another thing that I've had to learn to force myself to do is to learn patience. Sounds a bit weird, I know (considering that one must be patient when writing a novel), but it's true, especially when it comes to waiting for reviews / interest, etc.

Just to put it in perspective, the last time I checked Goodreads there were around 30 to 40 readers who had marked "Betrayal's Shadow" as 'To Read' or 'To Be Read', and the book has existed in that status for between 6 to 8 months. Now, as a book-reviewer I know for a fact that sometimes you just don't get round to reading that book you really want to, or even have to.

I haven't finished Tad Williams' 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' and 'Otherland' novels, I'm way behind on Star Wars novels, I haven't read MD Lachlan's sequels to 'Wolfsangel' nor Jasper Kent's sequels to 'Twelve' and 'Thirteen Years Later' ... and many, many more. Seriously, the 'want to read' section of my personal library is bigger than the 'read' section! So I completely understand that many, many readers who have shown an interest in my novel haven't read it yet. And yet, the patience-thing is difficult to maintain... :-)

I've also had interest from two big publishers regarding "Betrayal's Shadow" and an agent with an extremely respected and capable agency has the novel, too - what am I getting at? While you're waiting to hear what these big industry-peeps think of your work, write. Easier said than done, sure, but must be done. Keep busy.

Because we writers thrive on communication and, yes, recognition. It's wrong, because a writer should actually think of themselves as storytellers - a storyteller will never stop, will they? Despite everything and anything that could and will happen. Nowadays we're actually quite lucky - we don't have to travel from town to town and hope that we'll get a chance to regale a crowd of eager listeners with our tales; we can sit at home and type and email and Facebook. It doesn't make it any easier, of course, but neither does it make what we do less difficult.

What is also difficult -and this ties into our need for recognition, reinforcement and communication- is understanding that your publisher is not only your publisher but someone else's publisher, too. Many others, actually. We need to remember that our job as the writer and storyteller is to write, and that it's also not only a job - hell, I need to remember that every single day! Our publishers have seen promise in our work and they're helping us to make our work as damned near to perfect as is possible. Our publishers are also human beings and have lives, loves, must eat, sleep and defecate (nice mental image there for you!) just as we have to live. And together with them we have to try and find our way through all this marketing / spread-the-word business, too.

So, for anyone reading this who thinks that writing is easy -you just write something and push it out there and sit back to write more while the money ticks into your bank account- THINK AGAIN. It's damned difficult. And everything you will ever write has the chance of breaking you.

So, to be succinct, KNOW why you're writing. I'm a dreamer, I live in my head, I'm constantly wondering and thinking 'what if?' thoughts, and I try to explore what's happening in my head on a daily basis by writing, by creating stories and characters. I'm doing this for myself - not lying about that. I'm just incredibly lucky that so many people have handed over money to read my tales. The money is a by-product, you understand. And it's wonderful, make no mistake, but writing and telling stories is my outlet, what I do so that I don't have to get more and more expensive meds. ;)

I think I may have completely wondered off the path (which is probably why I don't write self-help books) and I hope you've understood at least a bit of what I was trying to get at with this post. :)

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SAIR Book Festival

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to report in quickly about this great new Book / Publishing festival which I attended today - The South African Indies Rocks Book Festival. :-)

Fellow South African author Carlyle Labuschagne put together this new Festival as a means of promoting South African authors, and though the event was small, small things have a way of becoming large as they gain more momentum - which I'm sure we'll all witness year after year. :-)

I had the great fortune of meeting passionate new people at the Festival: among then Rachel Morgan, Jo Watson, Paula Gruben (whom I didn't get to chat with since she was making notes), and Louise Cosgrave and Leani le Roux (Wordsmack Publishing).

I'm singling him out, because he was the only new MAN I met (hehehehe, remember yogurt and aromat!), but I finally met Joe Mynhardt, too - Joe's the driving force behind Crystal Lake Publishing, and it was awesome to chat and knock a couple of beers (and brandies) back with him. :-)

I was also on a great panel with Rachel, Monique Snyman and Joan De La Haye, in which we discussed Publishing and Bookselling, and I was also honoured to accept a award on behalf on my publishers, Fox and Raven Publishing. :-)



Check out some of the photos of the event:





And a book / publishing event wouldn't be complete without a book haul, now would it? :-)


I really enjoyed this event - it's wonderful to see how much passion and excitement there is for South African-written Fiction, and I'm sure this event will go from strength to strength! :-)

Be EPIC!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Great November to March Update

As you may have realized, it's been so long since my last post that the blog was seemingly hacked - twice. In any case, that seems to have been sorted out and I'm back. :-)

A lot has happened since I posted an excerpt from Book 2 - more reviews, a podcast, and a lot of progress on book 2 (now at 127K); but I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't a trying and difficult time.

In November I had the honour of participating in two events - a very windy and fun signing at the Labia Theatre (during HorrorFest), and a meet-and-read at Book Lounge in Cape Town's CBD.

HorrorFest:

The HorrorFest Night Market taking shape

David Horscroft's *first sale*

From left to right - Nerine Dorman, Daniel Hugo, David Horscroft and Marius Du Plessis

Nerine and David facing off

The table we shared - the best table at the HorrorFest Night Market, of course!
Book Lounge:

From left to right: Toby Bennett, Ruth Browne, David Horscroft, Carine Engelbrecht, Zane Mark Gentis, Diane Awerbuck, Sally Partridge, Nerine Dorman, and me. 





The story I read at Book Lounge is 'Mackey and the Monster' and can be read over on Wattpad. :-)

After those events it was back to work, for a couple of weeks, and then December arrived.

On the 11th I was interviewed by the epic folks at GeekXP for their podcast, 'Release the Geek', largely because Raymond E. Feist called me a 'sonnovabitch'. ;-) You can listen to the podcast here and here (for those of you on iTunes - it's the 8th episode).

December was a busy period - I'm a bookseller and we had a damned good festive season, which allowed me to really enjoy the break I took with Leana; we went down to her mom in Mossel Bay and had an awesome, relaxing holiday. Lots of swimming in the sea (major step up for me since I hate cold water), tanning, book-buying and we also caught the kickass South African band, Zebra and Giraffe, at an awesome venue in Mossel Bay. Check out the pics below:











Upon our return to Pretoria, the sad stuff began happening; the day after we arrived back we lost our cuddly, loud, adorable and opinionated rescue, a Pekingese named Teddy. Leana and I don't have kids, so it was devastating, and we will never stop missing him or feeling his absence. Here's a video I created, telling Teddy's story - have some tissues ready, folks.



Five days later we had to put Woody to sleep. He was a lovable and gentle soul who didn't deserve his previous owners, and though we did what we could to show him a better life, cancer basically destroyed him. :-(



Less than a month later, our feisty little girl, Bubbles, also had to be put to sleep. She had a bad heart condition and she deteriorated very quickly. We didn't want her to continue struggling, so we made the decision, and she died in our arms.



Needless to say, all the losses affected my writing and I found myself, once again, falling behind - I was supposed to have Book 2 done by the end of December, and then January, and then February... Now things are looking better for the end of March, so hold thumbs for that! My publisher has been awesome about it, but I still feel bad - I didn't want to take so long to write the second book; as a bookseller I know how bad it is to have to wait to read a book, especially considering how book 1 ended! :-)

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom - although sales have begun to really slow down for book 1 the store that I work at has the distinction of having sold over 100 copies of "Betrayal's Shadow", and only 54 of those copies were sold on launch-day. :-) Not bad, eh?

The BIG news that I hinted at in my last post hasn't materialized yet, but I'm still hopeful that I'll get good news - whenever that happens. :-)

Some absolutely awesome news is that you'll all be able to read a full-on Horror story from me very soon - "Exertion" was chosen as a finalist in Bloody Parchment's 2014 competition, an achievement I'm very proud of! I'll keep you all updated on when you can order the print / Kindle copies of this anthology. :-)

I've also had some epic (and not so epic, but still cool) reviews of "Betrayal's Shadow" - one of my favourites from a man who is quickly becoming a legend in Fantasy fiction, and whose work I enjoy immensely: Zachary Jernigan. He's the author of No Return, The Bottom of the Sea and the forthcoming A Shower of Stones - if you haven't read his work yet, get to it!

The other awesome review came from prolific reader and blogger Andy Angel - still stunned by what he had to say. :-)

That's it for now - will be back soon with the title-reveal for Book 2. ;-)

Until then,
Be EPIC!