Hemmingway Was Wrong About a Few Things

Hemingway On SafariIt is customary to hold the great authors up as the sources of all wisdom in our craft and we can’t have a conversation about the greats and the wisdom they bestowed on us without bringing up Ernest Hemmingway. So, despite my status as a mere mortal I would like to raise a few objections to some of the facts that we now take for granted because a genius said them.

Keep in mind I’m not saying he was wrong, but I would argue that his advice was only right for people like him. He was a genius with a pen, but we are not all Hemmingway. The good, even great writers of our age are all very different people so what worked for him won’t necessarily work for us.

First of all, the first draft of everything isn’t shit. That’s so incredibly unfair and dismissive of one of the most beautiful things a writer can make. Yes, the first draft is often rough and messy but it’s full of great things. It’s full of half formed ideas, fledgling characters and silly throwaways that you put in just because they made you smile. Maybe those things will be built on in later drafts and maybe they’ll be removed completely but they are beautiful in their imperfections.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to treasure your first draft. You don’t need to overedit it, examine it or make it perfect but as you write it appreciate how wonderfully flawed it is. Your first draft might be the truest expression of who you are as a writer, with all of who you fear you are and all you hope to be included.

Supernatural-Authors-Montage1This isn’t just about Hemmingway either, it’s about all the greats. A lot of great writers gave a lot of very good advice but not all of it applies to you. People give advice based on what’s worked for them in the past and maybe it helped Hemmingway to believe his first draft was going to be garbage no matter what he did but that doesn’t mean that’ll help you. You can take advice from Stephen King, Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett, all of the above or none of them but the idea of idolising great writers until everything they say is unquestionable gospel is harmful to you as a writer.

Unless I’m wrong in which case feel free to ignore me too.

I’m not saying you need to trust yourself only, just pick and choose the advice that’s right for you. My first draft is my precious baby and building on it is an act of nurturing and love that I couldn’t hope to do if I really believed it was shit.

Oh, and don’t write drunk, even Hemmingway rarely actually did that according to his family. He drank after he was finished for the day or during particularly foul cases of writer’s block.

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Opinion: Why I Hate Fanfiction

I can’t say I’ve read much of it, if any, but I already hate it. But why is that? I would say if you have time to write, work on your own story, with your own characters. I know it may be fun to use pre-existing characters, but you’re not going to get better at writing if you use characters and settings that someone else has already created.

When I first started to get serious into my writing, I sat down and thought of all the aspects of writing I needed to get better at. One thing was length. My chapters started to die off after about two pages. So, I set myself a task; Write a book that is ten chapters long, focusing on ten characters, and each chapter must be ten pages long.

I named the book Bloody Cape, due to two reasons. 1. It was the name of a Deftones song I was listening to at the time, and 2. It gave me an idea.

The idea was a small town where a murdered child had been found in a box in a drain. The child was wearing a version of a superhero suit. The first chapter was based around three children who are playing on an abandoned tennis court and end up finding the child. As it was so long ago, I can’t recall all the characters, but I know one chapter was based around the murderer, going back to work and mowing lawns, one chapter was from the perspective of the newsagent who gets told about the murder by the customers who come into the store. Another was the police officer called out to investigate.

What I found was, I was automatically wrapping up each chapter after a few pages and I had to keep pushing, keep writing, until I reached ten pages, which was extremely difficult to do. I got through it, and ever since then I was able to predict where I want chapters to go and learn when they need to end. Some of my chapters now can be one page long, or over ten, it all depends on what you want to reveal in that chapter and its purpose. I can write length now and know I can do so, because I’ve done it. I know the pitfalls, i.e. revealing the point of the chapter too early. I’ve learnt to start a chapter way before the point, and slowly get there. It’s a book, not a movie, you don’t need to jump scenes, you can build them up.

My point being, if you have time to write other people’s characters, you have time to work on your own writings. Don’t waste your time. Practice coming up with your own characters, your own settings and your own plot lines. I fail to understand why you would spend an hour or two writing about the characters in Twilight or Hunger Games, when you could be creating your own world.

~Mitchell

Meet the Author: J.J. Fryer

With our little indie publishing house in Brisbane exploding in recent years with new authors and new titles, we’d like to use our blog to introduce (and reintroduce) our talented team in 2019. First out the gates, meet J.J. Fryer, our newest debut fantasy author!

w3.jpgTell us about yourself: I was diagnosed with Mild Cerebral Palsy when I was a year old and Asperger’s Syndrome when I was twelve. In terms of my writing style I write in the first person. I haven’t had much experience with writing books. Before I published my first book, I actually wrote another book, because I had way too much in my head. And that’s basically how I got into writing. I am such a fantasy nerd, ever since I was little. I also love a few of the old T.V. shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. One of my inspirations is Cassandra Clare, she researches every one of her books extremely well and portrays a realness into each of her characters. Inner Reflection is my first ever publication.

Favourite books: The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.

Favourite Television series: Once Upon A Time, have you seen the costumes!?! Plus really imaginative storylines.

Favourite Colour: Blue.

Favourite subject in school: L.O.T.E. Love learning about different cultures.

Food I can’t stand: Olives, way too salty.

Something I would never be caught dead wearing? Those singlets with the really low-cut sides.

w2Age I am not? 40.

What inspired you to write your current work? There is such a lack of authors who write about people whose Special Needs are not always seen. And I wanted to show people that Special Needs or not WE ARE ALL HUMAN.

What genres do you read and write? I mainly read fantasy, but sometimes I read sci-fi and murder mystery . . . sometimes.

When did you start publishing with Ouroborus? I started publishing with Ouroborus in August of 2018.

Current work- in-progress? Book Two in the Beneath the Surface series.

w1Hardcover, ebook or paperback? Hardcover, because there’s hardly any of them in bookstores.

DC or Marvel? I’m one of those people who likes both.

Book by a debut author that you’re most looking forward to reading? Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte.

Book by a fellow Ouroborus author that you can’t wait to be released? Haunted by Shayla Morgansen. I love the magic system.

wYou can find me on Facebook at J.J.Fryerauthor, Instagram  at j.j.fryer and Twitter  at jjfryer_09. Both the paperback and the limited edition (50 ever made) hardcover of Inner Reflection, the first book in the Beneath the Surface series, can be purchased at our online book shop, bookdepository.com, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Anticipated Releases

With only eleven months remaining between now and the year all the world’s governments have to start delivering on all the things they put off ‘til 2020, or else develop new excuses and targets, we at Ouroborus intend to deliver early! We’ve compiled a list of our upcoming releases, which will filter out onto our shelves in the coming year, with six of our authors returning to the page with new titles across the genres of fantasy, paranormal and horror. Do you follow one of our writers? Read on to see if they have a 2019 release!

CHILDRENfront.jpgChildren of the Locomotive

Mitchell Tierney

Three children are destined to die in the small town of Hope Valley. Surrounded by poverty and drugs, the trio find an old train, buried for years and left to rot. They must get the train going and leave the town before it’s too late… Expect to see Ouroborus Books’ first adult horror title out in the first half of 2019.

 

17229950_10158334941810416_719803958_o.pngAmity

Danica Peck

Amity believes fate has dealt her a bad hand of cards. Bonded with the brother of the man she loves and cursed to a lifestyle that will turn her village against her, she runs – but no matter how far you run, fate will catch you. Look out for this standalone paranormal romance novelette by mid-year.

 

haunted 2.jpgHaunted

Shayla Morgansen

The Elm Stone Saga moves into ever darker territory with this fourth instalment picking up immediately after the explosive ending of Unbidden. For both Aristea and Renatus, the past, their fears and their secrets are beginning to catch up, and lines once clearly drawn in the sand are blurring. Haunted will launch mid-2019.  *not final cover

 

eye of the storm front.jpgEye of the Storm

Annalise Azevedo

The second book in the YA paranormal fantasy series The Sacred Stone continues to follow Laria, Brodie, Jason and their friends as they come into their powers. They have to face their darkness. Unable to go back to where they began, are they ready to find themselves?

 

lost preview.jpg

The Lost

Amanda Geisler

After killing her alpha, and human society finding out about things that go bump in the night, Rya Garcia tries desperately to bring back a sense of normal to the town of Wolfridge. However, with the threat of Michael looming over their heads, our favourite supernaturals are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Look out for The Lost late 2019. *not final cover

 

Untitled-1.jpgThe Lost Heirs

Danica Peck

The Battles of Azriel series is about to get its third instalment. Aubrey has taken back Alesmera and Arya re-enters the world of war. The question is, will she be fighting side by side with Arielle, or will she have her own battles to win?

*not final cover

 

3mock

The Red Gentleman

Robert Barlow

The third book in The Laughing Man Chronicles. Adam’s stressful life running an interdimensional carnival takes a dark turn when an associate turned enemy comes to his door. Xavier, the Red Gentleman, has a plan to kill the King of The Eternal Flame that will take them across dimensions and face to face with what The Laughing Man fears most. *not final cover

 

 

Struggling with the Cursed Writer’s Block?

Believe it or not, but everyone has it at some stage of their writing career. Especially to me – sometimes things get in the way of life when I can’t focus on anything in my story writing, then I go check for cute animal pictures as a distraction. Let me tell you a few things that helped me through the stages of writer’s block.

First of all – Your path

Now I’m a writer who has to have a plan for their story. If not, then it ends up dead before it began. If you’re like me who needs to have this path set out for them then I strongly recommend for you to stop and read over your work. One of the major things about my block is because something is missing in the story or I could perhaps extend a part for another character that I forgot to include three chapters ago. So if your path is going in the direction of destruction and you don’t like it – cut it out and do it again. I know this is a painful process, but there’s still a chance you can reuse the deleted part for a future scene.

Inspiration 

Have you ever been in a place or heard a song that simply spoke to you? You could be inside a nice bar and an idea starts to merge in your head. Commonly, many writers get inspiration from their dreams. Ideas are born through inspiration and by watching or listening to the world around us, we can get bring life to an idea that has been dormant for so long. Most of my scenes are brought on by music, so perhaps if you’re struggling even with the music you have currently then you look up for something refreshing. I work best with instrumental music, as sometimes I’m listening too deeply with the words and I may accidentally write the lyrics instead of my intended part. So, my advice for inspiration is to go outside to take a break from your writing in order to get a better feel of new ideas.

Looking from a Different Point of View

Sometimes, even I admit that this is a little challenging. When I offer my work to read, there are plenty of people who care about me who are willing to sell their arm to do so in a heartbeat. The problem lies within your bond with other readers however. If the story isn’t good and readers are just saying that it is then it’s tough to be able to work from it. Yet if there’s honesty and it’s bad, then the critique can embarrass you and shy you away from the chance. I won’t deny it – it is hard to give your work to someone and get feedback, but my advice would be for you to ask the reader of what they think needs to happen. It is however, completely up to you whether you take their advice of the story as you have the final say.

Writing Small Projects

I know that not many people are a fan of changing topic so suddenly… which is why I included it as a small project. A perfect example would be a possible snippet of your story that has nothing to do with the main plot (A.K.A – fanfiction involving your characters). While I rely on this from time to time, this isn’t my most used tactic. I often do alternate scenarios or side stories of the characters I never use. It is a skill that I often enjoy and sometimes it brings me back to my story which is something that we all need sometimes.

~ Annalise

Annalise is the author of the Sacred Stone books

Visit Annalise’s bio here

My 10 Step Novel Writing Process

In my opinion the most important thing for an author is to have a consistent project process. This process is likely to be different between each author. This month I thought I might share my process.

Step 1: Idea Formation

Before you can start writing a story of any kind, you need to at least have an idea for what you’re writing. Formulating the ideas after first having them and working out if the ideas are viable enough to turn into a story. I often find that my ideas come from dreams. I then spend time the next day going over the ideas and stretching them until they become something more. Once I have worked out if they might work as story ideas then I move onto the next step.

Step 2: Research

After formulating my ideas into a novel/series idea I begin researching the topic and start building the scene for it. If the project is set in a specific time period, this means I need to research the time period, the way people dressed, the way they talked and the various social statuses involved with the time period. Through this research characters can be made and worlds created.

1_rdhhfkls-0l0xuzighwyzgStep 3: Storyboarding

After researching, I start storyboarding my ideas. Formulating a basic storyline for the novel at the very least. I am not much of a planner so I usually only start with a story premise and a few milestones. Everything else I leave up to in-the-moment creativity.

Step 4: 1st Draft – The Skeleton

This is the very first basic draft of the story. I do my best to make sure the general story gets down onto the paper. It doesn’t need to have fantastic character and story development as it is only me shovelling sand into the sandpit. I aim to have this draft at approximately 80,000 words which is more than what I expect my novel’s final word count to be. The word count is likely to fluctuate as the writing process continues.

Step 5: 2nd Draft – Major Storyline Rework

I usually leave the project for a few months before returning for this step. For the 2nd draft I completely rewrite the story, this time with the original draft on the same screen. Using the original draft I rework the entire novel and restructure the storyline to a point where the major plot points are better developed.

157195302Step 6: 3rd Draft – Minor Storyline Rework

Again I leave a bit of time between these two steps. Maybe a month though as we are only focusing on the minor points of the story and making sure the characters are well developed. This process usually takes three times reading through the entire novel to ensure everything is as it should be for the story to either tie up the loose ends and be over or to be tied up enough to be over but also loose enough to continue into the sequel. After this step is finally complete, congratulations you have a finished manuscript… But wait… you still have to edit it.

Step 7: 4th Draft – My Edit

Leaving the manuscript for a while is the best way to ensure you come at it with a somewhat fresh perspective. A fresh perspective is fairly important as otherwise it is difficult to spot grammatical mistakes. I am awful at spotting mistakes in my own work. But going over it yourself first is a good idea, that way you have at least tried to find the more obvious mistakes. Besides there are other people who are more than capable of editing your manuscript for you.

download (4)Step 8: 5th Draft – Editor’s Edit

So, you’ve now written your manuscript and have gone over it with editing in mind. Now it’s time to hand it over to a professional editor. I was lucky enough that I had already found Ouroborus Books by this point with The Stray so I was able to get Sabrina to edit my book as part of my publishing costs. But if you haven’t found your publisher yet this can be a bit more difficult. Have a look around your local area and even online for editors of your genre. You can expect to pay several hundred dollars for an 80,000 word manuscript. But it is worth the money if you plan to self-publish. It might not get rid of all the errors, but it will definitely get an objective point of view and the editor will do their best to make sure your story is the best it can be.

Step 9: Final Draft

Usually after you get your manuscript back from the editor, it will be a marked-up version. This means they have gone through and made all kinds of notes, whether using the Microsoft Office Suite or pen to paper. It is now your job to go through the mark-up and make the changes. Most them will just be an instant yes to change. Others however may ask you to rephrase things or explain something better, more information. Either way, if you have any questions, follow up with your editor and they should be more than happy to explain their intentions. For this I recommend having an editor that uses track changes in Microsoft Word, otherwise the pen and paper mark-up is such a gruelling process and not one I look forward to.

Step 10: Prepare for Publication

After the entire editing process is done, it’s time to prepare your manuscript for publishing. If you have a publisher, they will complete this process for you. However, if you are self-publishing this can include cover design, manuscript formatting for different platforms, design choices, promotional items and events. Social media advertising. Pretty much everything you can think of that will help you sell your book. You want to be in everybody’s faces, but not to the point where your notifications get turned off.

~Amanda

Amanda is the author of the White Wolf Trilogy

Visit Amanda’s bio here

Ouroborus Authors’ Roundtable Review of 2018

As the calendar closes on the eleventh year of Ouroborus Book Services, we take a look back on the year that was. There were ups and downs – professional, personal and creative – and some really big moments – debut book launches, new team members, new directions, even an engagement! Our goal to keep our blog consistent and regular was met (go team!) and we conquered two Supanovas. Best of all, we added FIVE NEW BOOKS to our range. It’s been our biggest year yet, but don’t think we’re slowing down now. Keep reading: we sat down together to reflect and get excited about all the things we’ve got coming in 2019!

What was the highlight of 2018 for you as an author?

Danica: It was the first time in almost ten years that I wrote anything about Arya. She’s the main character in my second book, Colours Within. But every book I’ve started writing since I was younger, she has been a main role, not always leading character but she has always been present. I was starting to get to attached and fixated on her that I haven’t been able to write her an ending because I don’t know what my ending is, for some reason I feel like the two endings are tied together, linked.

Josh: The highlight for me (which happened today) is when an author overseas is going to check out my book!!!

Mitchell: For me it was finishing two books. One that took five years to write and releasing my first young adult horror book.

Sabrina: Releasing my first solo novel. Although I have two cowritten books, releasing Blank was a great sense of achievement. I don’t get to work on my own books as much as I’d like to because I’m getting everyone else’s books ready to publish, so it was my pride and joy this year.

Shayla: Writing again. I didn’t publish, because I’m working on my PhD, but as a result I’ve left full-time work and it’s given me my Sunday and holiday writing time back. This was the highlight for me as an author.

How did 2018 change you?

Sabrina: I think I became more stubborn. A lot of trying stuff happened but I refuse to let it beat me.

Mitchell: It started off as a bad year but got better. I learnt things can go from bad to good in the space of a few weeks.

Who released a new book with Ouroborus in 2018? (and tell us a little about that experience!)

Annalise: I finally released my first book, Reflection of Fire, or RoF for short. The night itself wasn’t what I was expecting, especially since I sprained my ankle after tripping over a step. While I don’t think of it as special as the remainder of my stories have yet to be released, my new experience would be reminding myself that I’ll always be on the quest to write something afterwards.

Rob: The Spinning Sister, follow up to The Laughing Man is my real sink or swim. The success or failure of this will inform the rest of the series.

Mitchell: Skellington Key was released. Looks great. Lots of positive feedback.

What goals do you have for 2019?

Josh: To have a majority or all of book 2 written.

Shayla: Book 4. Plus, you know, the other 80 things on my plate. But book 4!

Danica: I want to have first drafts completed for all my unfinished works. Until then I won’t start any more new ideas.

Annalise: I need to finally finish Pride of the Light, the last instalment of the series and go back to editing Eye of the Storm. Also to build up the hashtag for Shifter Squad!

New Years’ Resolutions?

Mitchell: Write more books.

Sabrina: Yes, more books! I’d like to get the sequel to Blank at least written and the final book in the Everdark Trilogy. Apart from that, aim for happiness.

Antonia: My new year resolution is to walk as much as I write. For example, if I write 1,000 words I will need to walk 1km. One metre will be one word I put down on paper. This is a good new year resolution for me because I need to improve my fitness and increase how many words I write in a day.

Best book you read in 2018?

Josh: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.

Shayla: Geekerella by Ashley Poston or Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

Mitchell: Tranny by Laura Jana Grace.

Rob: I can narrow it down to a series. The Murderbot Diaries. Giving a killer robot social anxiety? I mean what’s not to love?

What TV show, book series, game, hobby or idea did you spend the most time obsessing over in 2018?

Annalise: This is tough. This year was actually the year where I didn’t pick up any shows that I would obsess over. The Originals and New Girl finished, Lucifer and Brooklyn Nine Nine were cancelled for what seemed like for an eternity only to be revived. I guess I would have to say Smash Brothers Ultimate for my obsession. I’ve been actively avoiding spoilers which is hard by the way.

Josh: The TV show I obsessed over is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Mitchell: Titans, or Making a Murderer.

Shayla: My year can be cleanly cut into three phases of televisual obsession – Battlestar Galactica at the start, then The 100 once I recovered from Starbuck and Apollo, and most recently Killjoys. So it was a space-themed year… much like every year.

Advice you wish someone had given you in 2017 for dealing with 2018.

Rob: It’s going to be a tough one. Take every opportunity offered, because they’ll make the bad things worth it.

Shayla: It’ll be okay. You’re making the right decision.

When alien archaeologists arrive on sun-scorched future Earth and dig up an ancient copy of your book and tell each other in hushed, reverent voices, “It dates back to 2018!” what inferences or assumptions will they make about our society in their reports?

Sabrina: Oh dear… that will not be good. Blank is dystopian fiction and doesn’t show humans in the best light. But it will also show that love can win.

Rob: That we let our imagination carry us away to greater things. That the world that is and can be wasn’t always enough to explain how we feel.

Important question: what was the best thing you cooked or ate in 2018?

Annalise: Caramelised pork and anything chip themed. No regrets.

Antonia: Thai green curry with pork because the spices helped to clear up my sinuses. For the majority of 2018, I was battling a virus that just wouldn’t go away unless I overloaded my body with spicy food and chilli.

Sabrina: I’ve had heaps of yummy food this year. The dinner I ate at Sky Tower in Auckland was pretty amazing. I had some great gyoza at a tiny Japanese restaurant near my house, plus bacon, banana and maple pancakes and tomato soup ramen in Wellington.

SO HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY, WHATEVER YOU CELEBRATE, FROM THE OUROBORUS TEAM!

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amanda     mel-clarke-208x300

Sabrina , Shayla , Mitchell , Danica , Robert, Annalise , Josh (J.J.) , Antonia, Amanda and Mel