Tag Archives: blogging

Write your story down, NOW

Galloway Forest (7), Lowlands, Scotand.Phil: Yesterday I visited Candice for the first time since her daughter Erin was born. Mother and baby are doing well although I think the little one was unimpressed with my stripy shirt clashing with her own on-trend stripy onesie.

When you look at a newborn child you are seeing a blank page. Their story has only just begun. It could be filled with adventure, hopefully with love, perhaps with misfortune. Like opening a novel, you never really know what is going to happen.

In contrast, a friend of mine, John, died last week. He was well over 80 and his story had reached its final page.

Along the way there were many twists and turns. He used to recount some of these to groups of friends occasionally. Much of his life had been spent in agriculture and the story I remember most involved his time as an agricultural contractor.

In the run-up to Christmas, he and his colleagues had been ploughing in Scotland. On Christmas Eve the job was finished and they had to return home with their machinery. This involved a journey of 500 miles. On tractors. Not your modern tractors either, old ones that rumbled along with a top speed of around 20 mph. You can imagine how long it took.

In a hurry to get home, if you can call riding a tractor a hurry, they drove through the night arriving early on the festive morning. To make matters more entertaining, it was mid winter in an era when we had serious winters.

John’s description of being bundled up in all the clothes he could muster and riding an aged agricultural machine were both funny and awe-inspiring.

Sadly, all those stories have gone now. As far as I am aware, they only exist in the memories of those he told them too.

Candice was talking about the importance of trying to write down some of her recent experiences. While we won’t turn this into a baby blog, you can be sure that some of these will influence our future writing either in novels or short stories. Whatever, it’s great to get memories down in print. Perhaps we should all write out own autobiographies. Maybe they won’t be blockbuster sellers, but maybe one or two people will read and enjoy them.

At least the memories will live on.

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Blogging the dream alive

The dreamPhil: This time last week I was feeling blank.  If you read the post, you might have wondered why I bothered writing it. Perhaps Mark Twain was right when he said, “If you have nothing to say, say nothing”. Over at the bottleworder blog, there is discussion of taking a writing hiatus where the writer asks if it is good to take a break from writing.

You could argue that this is what team NolanParker has done. We haven’t written any fiction together for months. I don’t think that is what they mean though. We haven’t lost the urge to write, well as long as we can stay awake, life has got in the way of our writing. Were we to be transported back to the place we came from, an office with no work to do, we’d be on book 5 by now.

A break from the blog though?

Not such a good idea. While life might be getting in the way of writing, if we can both spare 20 minutes a week to knock up a blog post then we are hanging on to the dream. Each post is a flag that proclaims, “We are going to do this. One day. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day in the future.”

You could suggest it would be easier to give up. That’s true. It would. But we are proud of our efforts so far. Last week I was chatting to some old colleagues at a leaving do. There were new faces who I didn’t know but when I was talking to them, I mentioned the novel. Eyes widened and faces lit up. Telling someone you have written a book is still impressive. Obviously the effect would be greater if I could then regale everyone with tales of massive sales, a tour and all the accoutrements of the succesful novelist. For the moment I have to talk about approaching agents and investigating self-publishing. I talk with authority about the concept of book as product and marketing it this way. If they were feigning being impressed then it was good enough for me. They know that they wouldn’t have the commitment to do the same.

Truth is, at the moment, we probably wouldn’t either, but once upon a time we did and it seems a shame to waste that. So we blog on.

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Why do we blog?

netbookonpubtablePhil: According to the WordPress website, this the the 300th post on the nolanparker blog. Since I can’t think of anything better to write about, this seems an apposite time for a bit of navel-gazing. Why do we blog? Why does anyone blog? Why should you blog?

Well, we could say it’s all about publicity. We have 137 followers – a reasonable number who read everything we write. Add to this the numbers who spot us every time we throw another post out into the world. I’m pretty sure those numbers are on the low side. Being a nerdy web guy, I cunningly run an independent visitor counter on the site and it shows rather more visits than the ‘official’ one. If further proof was required, we’ve had a few days when two people have ‘liked’ a post, yet the counter claims no-one has visited. Hmmm.

We could say it helps us hone our writing skills. All those words. All that practise. Something good must come of it.

We could be honest and say that every time someone hits the ‘Like’ button, our egos get a boost. There is skipping and around and celebratory cake.

Truth is, the main thing the blog does, is keep us writing.

Twice a week, we are determined to add some nolanparker words to the repository of human knowledge and funny cat pictures that is the World Wide Web. If we didn’t do it, massive guilt would descend. The blog gives us a focus when writing the novel is going slowly. Sometimes we look for things to do that will provide meat for the blog meal.

Basically, it keeps us going. We can’t give up. Where non-blogging writers can stuff the book in a drawer and forget about it for a while, we don’t have that option. well, if we did, you lot would wonder where we’d got to.

Which makes it all worthwhile.

So, today’s moral is, if you want to get the book finished, tell everyone about it and then you can’t give up.

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Liebster Award

Phil: Thanks to Realm of the Goddess for awarding us the Liebster Award. It’s always nice to be recognised, although Candice is a bit disappointed that there is no Hollywood ceremony to attend as she has bought a new frock. I haven’t bought a new frock but I did get my hair cut which is nearly the same thing. (Candice – Phil I’m sure you’d look lovely in a frock!)

Anyway, as part of the deal, we have to answer some random questions, so over hot drinks and warm laptops, we had a go.

Why did you start blogging?

Candice – Phil told me we had to. To be honest I wasn’t very into blogs when we started but he wouldn’t shut up about it.

Phil – I started blogging back in the late 90’s when it was just starting to take off and have run a couple of blogs for my hobbies, so one for Nolanparker seemed the natural thing to do. The discipline of having to produce words regularly is useful for anyone who aspires to write and we need something to stop us just sitting around and eating cake.

If you could come back as anyone else, who would it be and why?

Candice – Hmmm, not sure. I don’t think I’ve ever really wanted to be anyone else.

Phil – I’d quite like to be King I suppose. Would I get to behead people who annoy me?

Candice – Like who?

Phil – BMW drivers mainly. And people who play music out of their phone on the bus.

Who did you most want to be like as a child?

Candice – No one specific. I had pop star posters on my bedroom wall but I never wanted to be any of them. Snog them possibly. What I wanted to be was an actor or writer, some sort of performer but definitely me.

Phil – Peter from Enid Blyton‘s Secret Seven stories. I remember him being quite clever and being good at disguises. With hindsight, there was a lot of Sherlock Holmes in him, another character I’ve always admired.

Who is your favourite character from a book?

Candice – I read a lot of books and so my favorite character tends to be someone from whatever I’m reading at the moment. Perhaps that makes me a bit fickle!

Phil – Edward The Blue Engine from the Thomas the Tank engine stories.

What do you like to write about?

Candice – Strong female characters. The genre doesn’t matter so much but the lead will have a lot of me, or at least a lot of who I might like to be, in her. It’s escapism really – putting yourself in different situations and seeing what happens.

Phil – I’m really not fussy. Since we started writing fiction seriously I’ve had a go at genres that I’d never considered such as chick-lit and horror. This means going and reading some examples and that’s been good fun. I tend to start with a story and have no idea where it’s going to end up anyway.

What country would you most like to visit?

Candice – Thailand or China. I want to go somewhere I haven’t been before to experience something different.  I always like to come back from a holiday feeling like I’ve learned something not just sat reading a book. Of course there are places where I feel I’ve only scratched the surface like America or Mexico so those would be good too. Wherever it is, there needs to be some nice beaches to so the tan can be topped up.

Phil – I’ve always fancied America by train. Coast to coast and back again, perhaps with a loop through Canada. Trouble is, I hate flying so I want to cross the wet bits on a boat. Mind you, I’ve always wanted to see Moscow, although I suspect a lot of the old Communist stuff has gone so North Korea perhaps? I don’t need a beach though.

What kind of music do you enjoy the most?

Candice – Indie stuff. Foo fighters (Dave Grohl – Yum), Ed Sheeran, Bastille. Maybe a bit of R’n’B/dance on a night out too.

Phil – Anything but R’n’B/dance please. I’m listening to a lot of Bellowhead at the moment with Thea Gilmore and Golgol Bordello in the mix. And some Wombles, because I look like Wellington.

Do you like the feeling of holding a book in your hands or do you prefer e-readers?

Candice – No contest, a proper book.

Phil – Me too. I can see the point of e-readers I suppose but nothing beats the feel of a book, especially an old one.

During which part of the day are you most productive?

Candice – The afternoon. I tend to get a slow start in the morning because I can’t focus.

Phil – I need something to focus on. If I have to get something done then I’m fine. Otherwise I can faff around and achieve nothing, If I’m excited about a project I’ll disappear into it and time doesn’t matter.

If you could have any superpower, which would it be?

Candice – Time travel. I’d like to visit myself when younger tell myself school is not as bad as I think it is. Finding out next week’s lottery numbers would be nice too!

Phil – Invisibility.

Candice – Who said that?

How did you feel when you were nominated for this award?

Candice – It’s really nice to be acknowledged. You can write all this stuff and wonder if there is anyone else reading it. Getting a “Like” or even an award makes it seem worthwhile.

Phil – Like most bloggers, you wonder if anyone reads your stuff and more importantly, whether anyone likes it. Getting an award is nice recognition that we’re doing something right. Thanks very much.

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Notes on the Liebster Award: The origins of this award seem lot in the mists of time. The general consensus is that it originated in Germany, Liebster meaning favorite or
dearest, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers (or less than 3000 according to some rules). Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to 5 more blogs. Or maybe 11.

Basically, it’s a positive pyramid scheme where bloggers pass on the award to other bloggers in the hope of a bit of coverage. One day, every blog will have a Liebster award. In the meantime, we’ll take it because it IS really nice that someone has read our stuff and enjoyed it. Sometimes, a warm glow is worth more than awards, even if you can’t wear a posh dress to it.

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Filed under Candice, Interviews, Phil

Creating a Buzz with the BBC

Phil: Last week, Candice posted about her day as an extra on the BBC Tv series “Casualty”. This seemed to generate a bit of interest in our blog and I thought readers who enjoy a bit of blatant self-promotion would like to know a bit more. Apologies for going a bit nerdy but the details are interesting.

The first thing I spotted was on a counter tracking visits to the site. It seems that someone using a computer at the BBC had looked at the post entitled “Casualty” followed by the tab “Meet the authors” and finally “Kate vs the dirtboffins”.

“That’s interesting”, I think, “I wonder if someone is looking for next years new 6-part blockbuster series ?”

Sadly not. Well, possibly not anyway.

A little more investigation shows that the Beeb automatically track mentions of some programmes using their “Buzztracker” system, which you can read about here: http://www.live.bbc.co.uk/buzztracker/buzz . Mentioning Casualty rang a bell somewhere and they spidered our blog, following up with a manual check which involved taking a look at the authors of the piece.

Casualty Home PageNolan obviously passed muster here because a link to this blog then appeared on tha Casualty home page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m8wd in the “Buzz about this programme section”

At this point, I was frantically texting and e-mailing the details over so madame could check it out for herself. Needless to say by the time she got there we’d fallen off the page again, but we were there !

Why did we fall off ? Well, I had just Tweeted our appearance and maybe the BBC check Twitter and correlate the results to avoid over-promotion from attention seekers. Alternatively, they might have decided that it wasn’t suitable for the main page after all – they prefer discussion on the latest episode that has gone to air, not moving scenery mentioning anything that might be coming up in the future. Not that anything was mentioned, what with there being an NDA document signed and everything. That and the role played wasn’t pivotal as far as our star was aware.

Is this information useful ?

Dunno. Maybe if you are a writer keen to comment on current telly, if you can work out which programmes the BBC is watching social media for then you could make your blog a traffic magnet for a while. I suspect the moral is you never know who is watching your writing on the web.

Anyway, if the BBC are still interested, I know a book that could be the next televisual Brideshead Revisited, Blott on the Landscape or Jewel in the Nile. Why not get in touch ?

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Wordpoo

Phil: It seems that WordPress.com’s automated SPAM checker decided a short while ago that our witterings failed some test in its little silicon mind. The result was that this blog found itself suspended. Sorry about that. We hadn’t gone away.

A quick e-mail dispatched to the helpdesk and they soon realised their mistake. No one stands between Nolan, Parker and our readers !

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Touring the book

Phil: The writer life isn’t all excitement and cake. No, sometimes you have to do real and quite dull work. Today I have written a review on some 1:76 scale loft insulation. Yes, really.

But The Book is partly a dream. A dream that one day I can move on from model loft lagging to engaging people with stories. People who will want to come and see team nolanparker on stage talking about our tales. To this end, a blogpost by Science Fiction author John Scalzi is very interesting:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/04/13/my-thoughts-on-book-tours/

I can do all that. Candice can do all that. Come on publishing world, you just need to do the printing bit !

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Filed under Phil, Publishing, Writing