Thursday, 29 September 2011

What Do the RWC 2011 and UV2012 Have in Common?

The two things being the Rugby World Cup 2011 and Undiscovered Voices 2012 for those readers who are acronym-challenged.

The answer is I have an emotional investment in both events.

So rugby first and it's all about Wales. On Sunday they play Fiji on Sunday in a game they should win fairly comfortably but I thought the same thing 4 years ago, right up to the final whistle. But this time Wales seem to have a young team of big, super fit Spartans. I'm feeling lucky and that's when things go wrong.

Evil Fiji
If Wales defeat Fiji they have quite a lovely, probable route to the final. Ireland in the quarter-finals, England or France in the Semi-final. It does seem like it could happen. But first they have to beat Fiji, so I'll be up stupidly early on Sunday morning to watch them. If they win and Scotland put England out on Saturday morning it would be a really good weekend. I'll be getting a beating from Lauren for writing that as soon as she reads it.

Undiscovered Voices looms on the horizon. I think the judging takes place this week and I keep imagining the three manuscripts I sent in for it. Sometimes they've already been shredded and recycled. Sometimes in a scruffy pile of manuscripts in the centre of a table, surrounded by the judges arguing, and gesturing wildly as they endlessly smoke and drink.

My UV2012 entry?
With the rugby it's easy to watch, though it means a fair bit to me it is just a game and I have absolutely no power over the outcome, no matter how much I shout and leap and whoop. But Undiscovered Voices is different. It's all down to me. In the few months since I entered I've been scared to look at my entry. I've been scared because I'm probably better at this writing thing now than I was then (I hope I am anyway). What if I spot something terrible? With it I get some very black and white feedback. If I win I get to know why, if I lose I don't get anything. I just know I wasn't good enough. At least I can see Wales playing rubbish rugby and know why they lose.

On the plus side if I do lose I only have to wait 2 years to enter again. If Wales lose  on Sunday and get knocked out of the world cup it'll be another 4 long years.

But Wales will probably win and so will I.

Because we are awesome!

Cheers,

Mark

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Storytellers, Writers and Google Plus

He's musing
Bit of a short, mixed bag of a post as I was ill for most of last week and still feel like someone is kicking me in the head.

Firstly, here's a 5 minute interview with Philip Pullman. What I found interesting about it was the part (2.33 mins in) where he's asked if he sees himself as a storyteller or a writer. He say's a storyteller as he is interested in the events, plot and the workings of a story rather than a writer who would be interested in the words and sentence construction rather than plot. So what are you? I think I'm a storyteller, mainly because I have trouble spelling words and constructing sentences and it sounds much, much cooler.*

Second thing is the changes that Google have made to Google+ this week, mainly to the hangout function. Hangout started off by letting you video chat to a limited group of people on your computer. Now it's been updated so you can use it on your smart phone, can make broadcasts from it to a larger group of people or edit Google documents in it. It seems very similar to a lot of the Google Wave functionality if you ever used that before it got moth-balled. But editing documents as a group over live chat could make e-critique groups very interesting.

Here's the full blog post about the Google Plus changes, it is open to everyone now so why not give it a try?

Cheers,

Mark

* I wish I was joking.




Thursday, 15 September 2011

Argghh and Ning

Arggggggghhhhhhh!
So much to do, so little time!
Arggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Still no results with getting my image added to Google search results, Google say it is a very sloooow roll-out. Only important, famous people get it at the moment. I've got some more techno-geekery in the pipe line featuring a map! If it works you'll possibly be amazed.

So tonight, I've leapt on the SCBWI 'update your Ning page' bandwagon and after spending an hour and a half drawing various things have put up a header of two fluffy clouds, Lovely. Well it was them or the strange insect creature thing coming out of the sand on a beach or a big squiggle.

Not the most productive nights work...

My SCBWI Page

Mark

P.S. I did make the fluffy clouds on my lovely Asus Transformer tablet. It's lovely, lovely, lovely.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Amazing Writing Tips #4: Illustrate the Point

I didn't draw this
In this business you meet a lot of picture book writers. And one thing they nearly all say is, "Are you paying?" But they also say, "Don't illustrate your own work."

Now this seems really lazy to me. A picture book is, say, 500 words. I could knock that up sitting on the toilet. So when I do, I do my own illustrations. I find it a marvellous outpouring for my creative side, the side that doesn't really get to show itself when I'm writing. Then I'm purely focused on the money.There are two big benefits to doing your own illustrations:

  • As the writer only you can really interpret the story you write. No illustrator could envision the sweeping grandeur of my picture book 'Barry the Dog Falls Asleep'.
  • It's cheap.
So when working on any book that requires or has the faintest glimmer of a chance of requiring an illustration, do them yourself. If you have a manuscript that might require illustrations doodle them in the border. In fact fill the borders with differing versions, let your imagination run riot.
Original Barry Illustration

Now you may not be as an accomplished artist as me, but don't worry, with modern computer software like MS Paint you can create masterpieces like this. 'Barry the Dog Falls Asleep' comes alive!

Doodle on brothers!

Mark