Saturday, 14 May 2016


Manu is out! It's a short film by Deepa Jacob, inspired by one of my stories! (I won't say which story because that'd spoil the ending of the film!)

The YouTube player should appear above, but if it doesn't then click here to see the film (it's about 14 minutes long).

My name on a film poster - how exciting is that?! :-) 
A second film poster - yay! :-)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A million words in 2016 (May)

I'm writing a million words in 2016!

Below is the progress diary for May (I'll be updating it as the month goes on). If you're interested, here's the intro, and here are the diaries for January, February, March and April.

The red number in the right-hand column is the total word count. Please wish me luck in watching that number tick up to 1,000,000 over the rest of the year!

The Million-Word Diary: May

1st May632,089

This is the only thing keeping me motivated!

The year ticks on and somehow I'm still managing to get words done. I'm not saying they're good words, but they are words, which means I'm writing! I've skipped a few days here and there, but I'm on track to finish before the end of the year. In fact I'm ahead at the moment, which is quite a relief!

That graph above is from my spreadsheet. Yes, I know, graphs are dull, dull, dull... but if I didn't have this graph then I'd probably have quit by now.

The red line shows my "par" (i.e. where I'd be if I was writing the 2,733 words a day, that I need to reach a million by the end of the year). The blue line shows my current tally.

Did I mention that I'm ahead? I'M AHEAD! Yay! :-)

The spreadsheet also gives me a few useful stats. Sure, that probably sounds dull, but it honestly is helping my motivation! Okay, here come the stats... brace yourselves.

Stats, stats, statty-stat-stats...

At the moment there are 243 days left until the end of 2016 and (because I'm ahead!) I only need to write 1,515 words per day to finish on time. However, my current average words-per-day is 5,139 and if I keep that going then I'll finish the million on 14 Sept.

This concludes today's broadcast from "stats-that-are-only-interesting-to-Mark-dot-com". Today saw another 3,697 words and so the total's now 632,089.

8th May657,151

More books/notes typed! 55,000 words so far!

So far, I've typed up roughly 55,000 words, and there's still loads to go! I can't face typing up any more notebooks and so I'm now starting on the scrappy bits of notepaper.  

That pile of paper in the pic above is mostly printouts covered in scribbles made at writing workshops. These scribbles take longer to work through than the notebooks!

It doesn't look like much, but it's amazing how much motivation is generated by this pile of old notebooks and papers. I was going to throw the papers away but keeping them means I can see them pile up. And the pile looks even better thanks to the very fetching SpongeBob bedspread.

Typing is dull, dull, dull but brain is still refusing to give me many ideas so I'm just plodding away for the time being. However, a couple of times I've found the notes have sparked something and I've had one of those wonderful creative explosions of productivity... you know, those fantastic moments when you type like crazy - words spilling from the mind like a glorious desert rain - and then you look up several hours later to realise that your creative side finally woke up. 

Maybe this is why writers are often semi-depressed... it's a career that involves about a thousand hours of miserable typing until *bang* you finally get a creative spark that fizzes out almost immediately but gives you just enough hope to carry on. Remind me why we do this to ourselves? :-)

Word counts for 2-8 May were 2,305, 2,054, 1,098, 1,728, 1,500, 7,746 and 8,631. Two cracking good days at the end there - go me! :-) The total's now 657,151.

11th May668,824
Guess what? I wrote some short stories! And, if I'm organised, I might even try to sell them. 

A while back I experimented with throwing a story on the kindle store and it turned out to be several million times easier than expected! To do so, you first have to register with Amazon... and that's when you find that the registration form looks terrifying. It was about a thousand pages long (and billions of people will tell you that I never exaggerate). I started filling in the form ("You are on page 1 of 5,000,012") and was ready to give up when suddenly came the magic question: "Do you live in the USA?" ... I said "no" and *pop* suddenly the form was complete. Magic! Turns out that most of the registration form is for American citizens to fill in their tax details. Us lesser mortals (!) don't have to bother with all that :-) At least, not until we make our first million.

Anyway, that particular short story was duly chucked up on the kindle store, and I did no advertising or marketing whatsoever. The whole thing was just an experiment to see how easy the upload process was. But somehow - despite my lack of effort - people found the story and bought it. To be precise, five Americans and one Japanese dude bought that story. I don't know what they thought of it, but it was kinda cool to have people reading my stuff and actually paying real money to do so. Okay, it wasn't a lot of real money, but it felt like a good start!

So now I'm trying to write a series of short stories in the hope of producing a whole collection. I don't know if I have the energy or motivation to do much marketing, but I quite like the idea of throwing a ton of little stories up on Amazon and seeing what happens. Apparently the story word count only needs to be about 3,000 words, which is actually quite easy once you get going. The biggest drain on time is scouring free image sites to create a book cover.

I'm told that one of the simplest things you can do to build a readership is to put a ton of links on the last page of your book (basically it's "click these links to buy my other stories")... so that's all the marketing I'll bother to do for the time being. (I'd much rather be writing than bothering to buy advertising space or doing random stuff like that!) I'm not expecting riches, but it'd be nice to generate a few quid here and there. And I'll get more into the marketing later... maybe.

Ooh, I've just realised the Bridport deadline is soon! That means I need to:
  1. Scour the laptop for something worth sending,
  2. Remortgage the house in order to afford the entry fee. 
Word counts for 9-11 May were 2,530, 4,880 and 4,263. The total's now 668,824.

19th May685,468
The film Manu came out on the 13th of May! Am I allowed to be excited about this? Because I am! Someone made a film inspired by one of my stories! That's exciting, right?! The story in question is "One In, One Out" which was published on the 50-word-stories site back in November '15. (Don't read the story if you want to watch the film - you'll spoil the ending!)

Soooo.... a few exciting things have happened, but otherwise it's just plod, plod, plod as I try to type up all my notes. I've found a few gems but the actual typing task is soooooo dull. And the end is a long way off... (Moan, moan, moan!)

Word count tallies are getting harder to calculate. I wish I'd been counting the stuff I'm typing up, because a lot of it was actually written in 2016 (so it should count towards my million words!) ... However, it's too confusing trying to work out what's been typed already and what needs typing now (e.g. if I wrote a story and needed it typed immediately then, obviously, I've already done it... but god knows where it ended up). And even dumber than that, something often sparks an idea while I'm typing, and so I sit typing new stuff for ages... and for some reason I'm not counting those words in my tally. Why?! I have no idea. I'm just waffling and confused! But that's okay because no one's actually daft enough to read this blog, are they?! :-)

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is that my total should be higher than it is (I reckon I'm actually past the 700k barrier already), but I'm too confused to work out my exact word counts any more. Bah. Can someone remind me why I'm doing this project?

I've had quite a few days of "oh god, I'm in bed already and have only just realised I forgot to write something today!" ... and this results in leaping up, rushing at the last minute to write something. It's not the best way to end a day, but I've read that being sleepy means you're closer to dream state, and therefore it's easier to be creative. Sounds good in theory, right?

Word counts for 12-19 May were 2,161, 944, 1,136, 4,822, 2,020, 2,487, 702 and 2,372. The total is now 685,468.

23rd May702,649
Woohoo! I've broken the 700k barrier! Word counts for 20-23 May were 1,329, 3,413, 6,702 and 5,737. The total's now 702,649.

31st May760,051
I've known for ages that it was the Bridport deadline today but somehow still managed to get myself into a last minute panic! The problem is that despite producing all these words, I still kinda hate most of what I write! (The editing stage is going to be hellish.) Also, most of what I'm writing is for novels (or series of novels!) so as a result I don't have much flash fiction or poetry.

However I did have a few flash fictions from last year, and I don't entirely hate them... so off thr ey went! And then I found a few poems so sent them off too. I'm no poet but hey, it was fun to pretend! Spent an obscene amount of money on entry fees but I did manage to get onto the Bridport flash fiction short-list last year (I try not to mention this more than once or twice... a day), so I couldn't help feeling like I had to try again.

There's a subtle advantage of submitting while on holiday... the time difference! The deadline was midnight but I'm in Greece, so I had until 2 AM to get my submission in :-)

I had a couple of days where I couldn't seem to stop typing. That's great for the word count but, dear god, it's a mess. I think I averaged about two typos per word. It's going to be fun trying to sort that lot out. Anyway, the word counts for 24-31 May were 2,792, 3,779, 5,450, 2,847, 13,209, 3,785, 11,704 and 13,836, so the total is now 760,051.

Grans & Ammo gets longlisted for an award!

Here's a lovely surprise. "Grans & Ammo" was longlisted for the Saboteur Awards 2016! :-)

I've no idea how many novellas they reviewed, but it's nice to be in the top 15!