Monthly Archives: January 2016

Oh for the time to be so prolific

novellist

Phil: Being in need of something to read on a train journey recently, my original choice having turned out to be desperately dull, I dropped into a charity shop and picked up “Poirot’s Early Cases” to keep my little grey cells amused.

Inside the front cover is a shocking list of Agatha Christie’s other novels. It fills a page.

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals she wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections and 6 romances. 86 books in around 60 years.

Oh to have the time to be so productive.

As Candice has mentioned, we’re both really busy with work at the moment and this has seriously dented any plans at getting our second book knocked into shape. I’d love to get back to it but at the moment it’s not paying any bills and so must sit on the back burner for a while.

I wonder if being free to write all day is such a good thing though?

Famously, for Christie, it wasn’t. She suffered from overwork churning out her massively popular novels. Her fans wanted more and she did her best to keep them happy.

Perhaps it takes a little “real” work to keep the writing ideas flowing?

Our books are set in a world that I hope is recognisable to our readers. If we could spend all day lounging around writing, would we churn out the literary equivalent of those albums produced by bands about being rich and famous once they are able to divorce themselves from the reality that first inspired their music?

Mind you, I wouldn’t mind the chance to find out.

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Don’t know which way is up

upsidedowncakeCandice: The last few weeks have been a bit all over the place in the Nolan household.  The other half has been away a lot for work so I have been leaning on the grandparents to look after the little person so I can go to the gym.

I’ve also started to train for my annual big running event, and then failed miserably to do more than 1 big run.

There has been lots of end of year stuff happening at work, nothing that you can really get your teeth in to but things that have to be done.

And to cap it all we have workmen in building a bathroom, something I have been really looking forward to but now its here I’m not enjoying it so much.

So, I’ve gone from having a nice weekly routine to not being sure where I am and when.  And when you have two people to get ready each morning, that makes things twice as hard.

I’ve turned up at work without my work mobile, forgotten my lunch, got to the gym without a towel or the right clothes.  And trying to work from home is out of the window as I keep getting requests for tea or questions about pipes.

So focusing on marketing the book had been in fits and starts to say the least. Phil has also been busy so there are snatched emails or meetings to talk book.  We even met on Saturday to get some head shots done, and I ended up chasing Erin round the Pump Rooms while he and the other half talked cars.  No book planning there.

So I am hoping February will bring a more settled routine, a groovy new bathroom and a marketing plan.

Can I just add we now have a 4 star Independent review on Amazon – so get buying people!

 

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You’ve gotta be in it to win it

WinPhil: Radio 2 are running their annual 500 word short story competition for 4 -13 year olds. A story writing competition has got to be a good idea and I wish it had been around when I was young enough to enter.

As a child, I loved writing stories. I quite liked illustrating them as well. Somewhere there is a Mr Men story complete with drawings in a notebook by P.Parker. However, much as I enjoyed writing (something that all children have beaten out of them by school English lessons) I wonder if I’d have got beyond the “nice idea” stage of entry?

Little Phil loved building with Lego. Really loved it. You know how much time kidz nowadays spend hunched over video games? That was nothing compared to me and Lego.

An opportunity presented itself one day. The local toy show ran a Lego building competition. The rules specified the size of baseplate but after that you were on your own.

I knew this was my time. I was the greatest Lego builder in the world. Whatever I did was going to be brilliant and I’d sweep away all others with my magnificence.

Building started. I can’t remember why but I’d decided to build a dolphinarium. There would be a pool, a stand for the crowd and a couple of performing dolphins.

I had decided that to be extra special, the pool would be full of real water. Also, since tiny dolphins were impossible to make with bricks, mine would be made of Blu-tack. It was going to be brilliant.

Sadly, Lego pools aren’t waterproof and I quickly had a wet bedroom carpet. Blu-tack isn’t very good for making strong dolphins either, at least not strong enough to stand on their tails as though leaping for a fish.

Unable to solve these immediately, I lost interest and before you know it, the closing date had passed. I looked at the entries in the shop window and knew that I could have done at least as well, if not better. The difference was that they had entered and I had only dreamed of it.

The good news is this is a lesson learned. We’ve launched our book into the world simply because it will never sell if we don’t. By last summer we were both fed up with being nearly authors. The world is full of people like that. Those who think they would like to write a book. We had written one and just needed to get over the line with a final push.

OK, we aren’t selling millions, but then Harry Potter took a while to take off and there is the Nolan marketing battleship yet to be deployed. It doesn’t matter, with the book out, things might happen. If I’d actually removed my dolphinarium from the soggy bedroom and taken it to the toy shop window maybe I’d be a professional Lego model maker by now.

So, if you have a child young enough to enter 500 words, get them writing. If they don’t enter, they can’t win.

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Writing something else

 

Candice: So this week I have a new challenge.  Phil and I have come up with a hair-brained scheme to sell more books, more about that in a future blog, however making it work involves writing some terms and conditions.

I do have some experience in this area through previous and my current job, though I normally have a team of legal advisors to help me work out if they are right or wrong.  But this time we are on our own.

If we can get them right it will mean a lovely thing we can talk about and run some PR around, and hopefully shift us into the hundreds of books sold.

But, like all writing, I’m struggling where to start.  Running on the treadmill last night I had a few things rolling round in my head but I need to get them down on paper.  It’s just like writing for the book but without all the exciting story lines,  ‘It’s just the facts’.

This is all part of the next stage of being a published author.  You can’t just put something out there and then hope it will be read.  Every day you need to be coming up with creative ideas to make people buy it, when you don’t have the name and don’t have the big publisher marketing budget.  We just need to keep chipping away and then we’ll have sold a hundred, two hundred and onwards.

So keep your eyes peeled

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I always wanted my own figurine

Candice: Re-reading Phil’s post from Tuesday (written as favour as my Monday was a bit of a nightmare) he’s touched on two things than have been close to my heart.

One: Lego/Playmobile and all the other toys like that you can now get.  We’ve got Happy Land toys in our house too as that seems to be the new Playmobile.

I loved playing with all of these things growing up – I used to build whole words in Lego until my Dad gave half of my bricks away to some one else.  Funnily enough we have been ranksacking my parents loft recently for my boxes of bricks and can’t find them anywhere.

Two: Having a model of me.

Its the big thing that pop artists or franchise stars talk about – that moment when they get so famous they have a fully representative model made.  Phil’s already been working at this with 3 D printing but I’m not sure we are at the point yet where we could actually sell some.

I do like the idea of having our book made into to some kind of movie – be that ‘Lego vision’ or panavision but I’m not sure I want to be the doll that people take home.  Its got to be Barbie and Ken versions of our protagonists Kate and Dave where you can play ‘will they or won’t they’ get together.  In fact a board game might even be better.

‘Can you navigate the KOD team through the pitfalls of closing a company and help Kate find her man? Available soon from Hasbro.’

Anyone know a company that might bite?

 

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Making our own film?

Phil: Now we are in the business of book selling, there has been much thought going on within team NolanParker about ways we can publicise our great work of fiction. In the modern world, what we all dream of is creating something that “goes viral”. In other words, an idea or image that spreads around the world on the tide of social media. If we can do that, and relate it to our book, we’ll start seeing mahoosive sales instead of the odd one or two.

Images are my strong point. Last week we had a Stormtrooper reading our book and in half an hour on Instagram, over 20 people liked it. Not a bad start but hardly the millions we might hope for.

Perhaps we should produce a short film?

A good idea but it’s going to involve actors and sets and expensive stuff. I have promised a screenwriting friend he can have the adaption gig for the book if he can do a deal involving a Hollywood A lister appearing, but so far nothing. We’ll have to do it ourselves.

Looking around the interweb, I’ve found a couple of smaller scale options. Rather than a film, how about a series of pictures that tell the story?

For a start, I could use a model railway as show here:

The Farthing Layouts

A tale of theft and skullduggery at the turn of the last century.

All very nice but only if you happen to have a “set” handy. I’ve looked at our book and we need too many locations.

Perhaps I should use some toys?

If you follow the BBC Radio 4 tale of country folk, The Archers, it’s worth keeping Twitter open during the Sunday omnibus, pointed at Ambridge Synthetics. They illustrate key scenes through the show with Playpeople:

 

Archers1

If you are watching and listening, it’s brilliant.

Archers2

All the main characters have their own figures and mostly the normal Playmobile accessories are used. Sometimes they get a bit off-piste with other items. recently we’ve seen a stuffed rabbit and real life guinea pig on the set.

Archers3

It’s pure pantomime. Regular listeners will immediately recognise evil Rob Titchner (boo, hiss) from the picture above. Even if you aren’t you’ll pretty quickly work out he’s not a goodie.

When I was a kid, I had loads of Playpeople. I had even more Lego though. Perhaps Kate vs The Dirtboffins in plastic bricks?

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Should you give the audience what they want?

TrooperreadsPhil: Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” He decided to create the mass-market automobile instead.

The writers of the new Star Wars film must be feeling glum at the moment. Tasked with creating a new film in the largest franchise in the world for a new owner who expects a return on their massive investment.

So, they looked at the previous 6 films and tried to work out what people liked.

Then they gave it to them.

Unfortunately, in doing this they managed to produce a film that was rather too close to the 1977 original. And boy has the Internet noticed. People who wake up under a Star Wars bedspread, wearing Star Wars pyjamas and eat breakfast from a Star Wars bowl have been taking to forums to complain. I bet there was hardly any work done in any It department for a week.

To be fair, when I saw it, I did wonder quite how stupid the Evil Empire have to be to build a pretty near identical mahoosive weapon and still make it as vulnerable to attack as the previous two. How that made it through plot development is a mystery.

Trouble is, how “new” a story do you go for?

The three prequels were roundly criticised for being dull and over-complicated, so the fans don’t want too much new story.

Imagine if there was a new, simple tale but something else got left out. Perhaps the writers produce the script and skip the lightsabre action as it’s a bit of an anachronism. You’d be deafened by the sound all the fans throwing their Millennium Falcon’s out of their prams…

It’s a problem for those of use with rather smaller budgets. Genre fiction audiences demand a new spin on the same old story. In the world of chick-lit it’s girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back again. At no point must boy turn into a Yeti (that’s fantasy) or girl kill him with a vat of health drinks (Crime fiction).

We’re working on Book 2. Kate and Dave are circling each other but we have a story arc and so they aren’t going to get together properly quite yet. Maybe in a couple of books time. Or the next one maybe. You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

In the meantime, we’ll try to take you on different and interesting journeys. Unless Disney gives us 4 billion dollars and then all bets are off but there will be some cracking songs and a range of collectible action figures.

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