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Re: Banking and accounting for authors One of the tips I've always held to is:
If you can't do it well yourself, it's better to hire someone to do it for you.
If you can afford it, it will be well worth avoiding a lot of frustration, confusion and fighting with numbers.

I unfortunately am not in this position to even think about it. But I have hope

August 16, 2016, 01:00:15 PM
Re: Banking and accounting for authors
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm going trad pub - I'm a week away from signing my contract so I thought I should probably get to grips with the money side of things now!.

Woohoo! Congratulations, and well done. :)

August 17, 2016, 10:09:16 PM
Re: Banking and accounting for authors > Do I need a website? If so, how do I set one up?

yup.  tho, it looks like you already have one!

if you want a real writer's platform tho, everyone recommends "wordpress on bluehost" -- blargh.  i despise wordpress.  mostly because inevitably, all of my friends who run a wordpress site (prolly 5 or 6 by now over the years) have all eventually called me to help them un-stick some random plugin or repair a compromised database.

i'm not a fan of custom wordpress installs.  (hosted wordpress is fine)

personally, the first place i send people looking for websites is squarespace.  it's beautiful and their tools are badass and simple.  in my opinion, it's the best place for someone not interested in all the nerdy stuff about running a website to run a website.

my second choice is probably ghost.  again, simple and modern tools.  a ton of themes.  it's a bit more nerdy to get started tho.

overall advice on a website tho?  don't do a free host.  they'll have ads and such on there that you won't want.

also, here's a really good listing of the kind of stuff your website will need:

> Do I need an accountant?

like i said above, always.  everyone should have one.  this should really be step 1.

> Do I need separate bank accounts?

that accountant you are looking for will probably say yes.  but, i'd wait until you find them first and ask them.

> Should I set up as a limited company or a sole trader?

in the u.s.?  personally?  yes, an llc.  but, like the accountant, i think this is something everyone with any moderate pile of assets should do.  protecting yourself from liability and all that.

i'd ask your accountant for specific advice for your situation, tho.

> What does my editor actually mean by "make it better"?

removing words.  adding layers.

> What, ultimately, is the point of socks?

to keep your feet from chafing.

August 18, 2016, 03:48:52 PM
Re: Banking and accounting for authors Ah, I didn't realise you were UK based.

Yes, being a LLC and paying yourself a salary/dividend will undoubtedly lower your taxes. Its the standard tax management scheme for freelancers in this country. I don't know how complicated it is, but hey, that's what accountants are for.

August 19, 2016, 01:38:04 PM
Re: Banking and accounting for authors ooh!  @AnnaStephens!

saw this and thought of you!

a podcast with tax tips for writers!


August 28, 2016, 08:40:46 PM
2017 James White Award Hey folks,

The 2017 James White Award for non-professional writers is open for entries between now and January 20th - see
http://www.jameswhiteaward.com/ for more details.

It's totally free and you have 5 months to write, edit and polish a short story. No reason not to give this a shot!


The James White Award is an annual short story competition open to non-professional writers with the winner chosen by a panel of judges made up of professional authors and editors. Stories entered into the competition must be original and previously unpublished. Entry is free.

The closing date for this year’s competition is Friday, 20 January 2017. The winner will be announced during Innominate, Eastercon 2017 – 14-17 April in the Hilton Metropole, Birmingham.

Please note:

The James White Award only accepts entries via the online form on this website.
Stories must be between 1000 and 6000 words long.
Stories are judged anonymously. We do not offer critiques or feedback on stories.

September 07, 2016, 05:09:13 PM
Thoughts at the close of my first year of writing Greetings,
I've been writing full time for a year now, and I am celebrating my one-year anniversary as an aspiring novelist by looking back at the surprises that emerged from this experience.

Like anyone who has compiled all the background material for several novels for years and finally made it a mission, I've encountered some phenomena I wanted to share. Perhaps it will help others, or perhaps my experiences are unique/specific to myself only, and won't be useful. But regardless, writing this lengthy post will be helpful to me, even if it fails to interest or assist anyone else. I'll make a donation to the forum for the space these lines will eat up.

My ambition: My intention has been to craft a story that features many of the favorite conventions of the genre, while hopefully sidestepping some of its more tired clichés. Some specifics:
- I want to show someone learning sorcery, and that would involve more than the "swish and flick" of Harry Potter's world, and the rock levitation + trite expressions of Star Wars.
- I want to depict a character who violently brings down the world order, not unlike Anakin Skywalker, but with better reasoning, and more intense moments along the way.
- I want the moral story to be conflicted and dramatic - the way life often is.

I have found this to be a tall order in a genre where one must also invent the world, the history and religion(s), the politics, and machinations of sorcery. While not undoable, there have been surprises so far, and I am far from finished. Here are the things that surprised (and delighted in some cases) me.

Surprise 1: I had more than enough material to make a good start This includes maps, languages (fragments), naming conventions, major characters (including groups), Big Picture plot lines, some subplot lines, and specific scenes, sequences, and "moments".  I thought I would run out of ammo - but I didn't. Well, sort of.

Surprise 2: The gaps I found are now home to my favorite parts. I intend 7 full novels based on my world and characters, and although I just said I had enough material, this isn't the full picture. While I didn't run out of Big Ideas, I didn't have enough smaller ones. My reams of material is substantial - notebooks and files and gazillions of notecards, but when divided across the vista of 7 books, that material spreads out, leaving huge gaps. This has been easy to solve so far, but this was alarming at first. Lesson learned: expect to encounter gaps, which is a GOOD thing. Or at least, I think it is.

Surprise 3: My haphazard process works. At least for me it has. My approach has been a hybrid of an outline/plot-matrix approach and a seat-of-the-pants "just write" approach. I have waypoints and specific scenes and moments, but the path between them, the sequencing of some of them, and the outcomes and reveals before, during, and after them has always been "soft".  This has been invaluable as those gaps have allowed me room to maneuver, add in new ideas, and move whole slices of subplot from one place/time to another.

Surprise 4: My tools sucked, but in a good way.
4.1 Dramatica. For brainstorming I bought the expensive Dramatica software, which was too rigid for me - BUT its unique approach to story (get their book and read it, their novel "Contagonist" concept is worth your time) and it's terrific tools made my brainstorming far more effective than I would have achieved without it.

Dramatica's writing template is very good, as it is query-based and allows you to skip around. There are downsides, as their approach is very rigid, and does not allow one to deviate, but it's certainly worth playing with. Besides, you can always use other tools (which I did). As I said, it was expensive ($250?) but overall, very worth it for the brainstorming aspects, and it is a good tool. Sub-Surprise - "good" isn't good enough for a project this ambitious. If you want to produce anything that is fine and above average, you will need fine and above-average tools and references IMHO.

4.2 Liquid Story Binder. For organizing my zillions of often disconnected/discreet ideas, characters, snippets of text, and summaries of things, this tool was PERFECT. My background material is EXTENSIVE. I needed to be able to capture and organize my summaries of religions, organizations and their structures and ranks, history of the world and the people in it, develop my sorcery mechanics, and a lot of other stuff. This tool excels at that better than anything I've seen. It's relatively cheap, and despite the sometimes funky interface, once learned, it's the best at this. Because Fantasy and Science Fiction REQUIRE extensive development of fictitious but plausible material, I consider this the biggest, best investment for a fantasy writer as far as tools go. I tried writing in LSB, but preferred Word. I did use LSB's templates for scenes, but that's easily replicated.

4.3 Grammerly.
Yeah, get this. My grammar took a hit after my 2nd or 3rd foreign language, and this cheap tool is worth its weight in gold for finding and fixing grammar errors. The time savings in reviewing one's own grammar alone make this an essential tool.

4.4. Word. I have worked in Word for years on large, complex, professional documents, so of course I started my real writing using it. It is excellent for composition (arguably the best I've seen), and for tailoring the look and feel of the text. Its limitations are invisible (or were to me until I experienced Scrivener) at the document level, but become apparent when attempting to shuffle text around, especially large sections.

4.5 Scrivener.
This has been the perfect platform for writing a novel (actually composing narrative and scenes), and it has utility for organizing background material. It takes time to learn (as do all good tools), but once learned, it is powerful. For example, keywords allow me to tag each scene (or other chunk of text), identifying each character, subplots, and other things. I can then extract (without changing anything!) all text with character A in them, or all text relating to a single subplot, and manipulate that text without screwing things up. So far, I've twice been able to completely re-align a subplot very quickly, even though its elements were spread across an 88K word text. Magic.

So I said my tools sucked, and then wrote about how awesome they are. So where's the suck? Well, I had envisioned using A tool, not 5. Maybe this was inexperience or conventional thinking, but regardless - I needed them all, at various times. So yeah, no tool was enough, or free of problems. This sucked, as I ended up buying $500 worth of tools - but now that I think on it - what other profession does NOT require quality tools costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars?! So yeah, I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been. If that sounds expensive, look at your plumber's tool belt - way, way worse.

Surprise 5: I have to write in layers. My writing isn't bad, but I cannot think along multiple lines at the same time. I thought I would be able to produce finished prose and I can’t. I can write events and direct the eye, but I have to go back and adjust the language for the character, work in exposition, etc.

Surprise 6: I write backwards. If I write a paragraph, I typically have to re-order the sentences. My mind just works that way, showing my conclusion and describing how I got there. Fiction seems to function reversely, showing the elements that point to the conclusion.

Surprise 7: My subconscious is better than my conscious mind for coming up with ideas. To feed it, I first have to vomit a horrible scene on the page, analyze it, and then sleep on it. Within 48 hours (usually less than 4) I will have a better idea. This seems to be the macro-level version of surprises 5 & 6. This is not a problem, really. It’s just slow and messy. The good news: I arrive at ideas I like, scenes that move me, etc., and arriving at them at all is a blessing beyond my control. It’s like winning the lottery but having to drive to the bank every day – I have no right to bitch. But it was surprising.

Surprise 8: TROPES!!! 
My discovery of tvtropes.org was literally a series of huge epiphanies. I am convinced that tvtropes is to writing what lego bricks were to building cool things as a child – all the pieces are there. This is worthy of its own thread someday. But for now I’ll say that lining up the conventions you want to present, reverse, deconstruct, etc., is a useful and fun activity that makes writing better, in ways relating to content.

Surprise 9: Patience really is a virtue. The clock is ticking. My friends want me to finish. My wife wants me to get paid. My ego wants to achieve success. And yet, I have instinctively paused as my narrative progressed to points where, for lack of a better way of describing it, the wind died and my sails went slack. This is A GOOD THING. It is my mind telling me I don’t have the right ideas ahead of me – I cannot/should not proceed without making a decision or realizing something. At first, this scared me more than anything else.

After a year with several lengthy pauses, I have learned that the parts of my mind below the surface are better – but they will take their sweet time. Waiting has always paid off. I say “waiting”, not stalling, not procrastinating, and not freezing from fear.

Surprise 10: After years of slaving away as a technical writer, it took time for me to realize that I REALLY CAN WRITE ANYTHING. “Boundless possibilities” is just a bunch of letters – but the reality behind those words is as soul-shaking as walking off the ramp of an aircraft at night and falling headlong into the black wind. I’ve now experienced both, and am I glad I left the military and became a writer? Damn straight.

Surprise 11: Courage. I wrote my first book at 11. It was terrible, and the teasing I experienced as a child both broke my heart then and gives me pause now. Like war, writing scares the hell out of me, but that fear can be mastered, endured, and channeled. Like war, it is GOOD to be afraid – it keeps you focused, because you really can fail. Success without fear isn’t success – it’s just performance. I’ve yet to meet a writer who isn’t afraid without seeing in their writing real reasons that they should be nervous, at the least.

Surprise 12: My references and self-study were sound.
My library of writing books is extensive, and I've read them all; many more than once. Better than a PhD in English, I think. We'll see how far that knowledge carries me. But so far, I am very pleased. I've read and heard a lot of bunk about writing, but so far I've been able (I think) to sort it all out.

I’ll save my epiphanies relating to others (including this forum’s denizens) for a follow up thread. For now, I'll just say that my brief time here has helped me immeasurably. And though I have a long way to go and many epiphanies ahead, I remain optimistic and enthusiastic - the things I would wish for anyone. So my first year has gone well. I hope yours has as well.

-The Gem Cutter

September 08, 2016, 05:57:07 PM
Re: Thoughts at the close of my first year of writing Nice idea! Maybe I will share my thoughts later too!

Your points #3 and #7 also happen here. Probably with all writers.

Your number #5, Hemingway put it perfectly: "The first draft of everything is shit." Joe Abercrombie said his characters all had the same facial expressions, Stephen King would find gross contradictions and plot holes and there are reasons GRRM and Rothfuss take forever to write their stuff.

September 08, 2016, 07:20:22 PM
Malessar's Curse: The High King's Vengeance - ready for release! High King’s Vengeance Releases 23rd September

Kristell Ink Books is proud to present the sequel to last year’s British Fantasy Award-nominated epic fantasy, Heir To The North, which got 8/10 from AFE Smith here on Fantasy Faction. Taking up the story immediately after the events of that book, The High King’s Vengeance brings Cassia’s adventures to a stunning conclusion.

   “I am the Heir to the North.”
   Malessar's Curse is broken, the wards around Caenthell destroyed. The Warlock himself lies, exhausted and gravely wounded, in the rubble of his own house. And while the dire spirits trapped behind the wards for centuries are unleashed into the world once more, Cassia is confined to a cell deep in Galliarca's grand palace.
   Yet Caenthell calls to her, and Cassia must answer. As Heir to the North, the throne and the power behind it belong to her. But the twisted hunger of Caenthell's spirits appals her and Cassia vows to do everything she can to defeat them.
   Now, Cassia must convince both Galliarca and Hellea that they have to stand against the resurrected High King of Caenthell. She must raise an army from nothing, make uncertain alliances with princes and dragons, and fight her way into the heart of the North. And, if she is lucky, someone may live to tell her tale.
   “Fear Me.”

http://bit.ly/HTTN2uk - Amazon UK
http://bit.ly/HTTN2us - Amazon US

  • Worldwide release on 23rd September 2016.
    Paperback, hardback, and ebook formats available.
    Launch event at Fantasycon in Scarborough, September 23rd, alongside The Summer Goddess (Joanne Hall) and The Book of Angels (AJ Dalton).
    Review e-ARCs available on request from Grimbold Books and the author.

About Steven Poore
Steven Poore lives in Sheffield with a crafty partner, a three-legged cat, and a critical mass of books and vinyl records. BFS Award-winning publisher Fox Spirit Books has published several of his short stories in their Fox Pockets range of collections. Steven is also one of the organisers of the SFSF Social, highlighting regional genre meetings and readings.
Twitter: @stevenjpoore    Facebook: /thestevenpoore

About Grimbold Books:
Grimbold Books is home to some of the very best science fiction, fantasy and dark fiction around. Our imprints are Kristell Ink (science fiction and fantasy) and Tenebris Books (dark fiction and fairy tales). We also publish an annual charity anthology from the Oslo Writers’ League under Grimbold Books to which we provide all our services for free in order to support a worthy cause. Our books are released as e-books across all platforms, as well as in print via all major online distributors, and on consignment with smaller retailers and independent retailers.

September 09, 2016, 09:27:37 PM
Re: Mothers in Fantasy
Hm, from my own library it was the opposite! But they both die a lot indeed and YMMV. Adding insult to injury, I offed a lot of parents in my own WIP too  ::)

The Copper Cat -->
Spoiler for Hiden:
Wydrin's mother is alive, father presumably dead. Sebastian's mother is alive, no mention of father. Frith's parents are offed.
F:2, M:1

Since I'm here... ;)

Spoiler for Hiden:
Some extra details: Wydrin's father, Pete Threefellows, was lost at sea and presumed dead. Sebastian's father died before he was expelled from the Ynnsmouth knights, but his mother still lives in their old home (which leads to one of my favourite scenes in The Iron Ghost). Frith's mother died of an illness some time before his home was attacked and his family tortured to death.

Wydrin's mother, Devinia the Red, is a main character in the third book, at least partly because it bothered me how few older women turn up in fantasy books - specifically as characters in their own right and not just as catalysts for the behaviour of male characters. The Silver Tide also includes Wydrin's 'nan', Augusta. Who is tough as old boots.

We're guilty of killing off parents a lot, it's true. It's a handy way to sever ties with the main character's past, to make it easier for them to head off to the big explodey mountain and destroy that ring (were Frodo's parents dead? I can't remember...) I think with fantasy it's also a little nod to its folklore and fairytale roots - mums and dads were very often either bad or dead in those stories.

September 19, 2016, 09:40:38 AM