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#AtoZChallenge Day 1 – A is for Art

I have been meaning to take part in this event for a number of years now, and while I talked about it earlier in the year with a few friends of mine, I had totally forgotten about it until today.

The A-Z challenge sounds like just the right thing I need to get my blogging back on track. I don’t think I really posted anything of interest in the month of March, and that was coming off the back of a really exciting start to the year.

So here we go, Alex is getting back into the blogging seat. Who knows, maybe I will get some new followers, maybe I will get some new sign-ups for my mailing list and maybe even sell a book or two. That would be nice, but, it is not the aim of the game. The aim of the game for me, is to have fun. I can easily forget that in this crazy world we live in, but writing is, and always will be about fun. So today, I want to use the letter A to talk about

ART

Art is an interesting word, and for this article, I will look at it from two angles, within the same writing sphere.

a to z

For a writer, cover art is of vital importance to us. I know people say to ‘never judge a book by its cover’, but people do. More so now than ever. On Amazon, the first thing people see when browsing is your book cover. The artwork pulls their attention. The book will then hold it.

For (the majority of) writers, there are two things that we should always leave to the capable hands of the professionals. Editing and cover art. These are key ingredients to a writer’s success, and must be entrusted into the care of someone who is just as dedicated to their craft as you are to yours.

Writing-Flaubert

As a writer, what we create is Art. Our words are the oils, the watercolors, and pastels. The page is our canvas. We create what our heart tells us. We should not write for the masses, we should not write for success, but for ourselves. Like true art, our words do not need to be explained. Our words are ours, and as long as we stay true to ourselves, the core of who we are, then the art we create will always be true.

Feel free to share this post with others, and don’t forget, be true to your art, because at the end of the day, being honest with yourself is all that matters.

Check back in tomorrow for the B, it’s going to be a bitching and boisterous blog.

I’m Going to Whisper Sweet Nothings in your Ear

Sometimes, a character introduces themselves to you in such a fashion that you cannot ignore them. It is not a simple matter of them appearing to say hello and settling back down to wait their turn to be written. These characters storm into your life and disrupt even the most boring day to day tasks.

I have just been introduced to one of these characters, and he just refuses to pipe down. He stands here with all day long, whispering in my ears. Demanding that I stop what I am doing and tell his story. Now, I can understand why he is doing this. His tale is quite the one to tell. But I just cannot do it. Not yet.

Brother Jack is upset with me for this, and is starting to shout louder and louder, in the vain hope that I take heed of his words and give him the paper he needs to unburden his soul. Or maybe to trap yours.

Cult 2

You see, Brother Jack is not a nice man. He is a troubled man, whose backstory alone would be a novel that would make most people cringe, reincarnating those childhood fears of what happens in the dark. His story is one of a child forced to bear witness to all manner of horrific deeds and acts. Incidents that even a grown man should never have to witness. He was a child that was forced to grow up long ahead of his time. He was taught anger and rage ahead of love and compassion. He was a quick learner. Too quick in fact. For he learned not to shrink away from the things that were to him. Rather, he embraced them. He enjoyed them, and longed for the chance to be able to add his own twist on things. Brother Jack’s childhood was destroyed, but only he understood that he was not meant for childhood. He was someone else. He was something else. Trapped in the body of a child, he had an understanding of the world that transcended social acceptance.

Locked away from the world, a supposed punishment, Brother Jack found nourishment. In many ways, even though he lived for many years before it happened, he was not truly born until that fateful day. The day the fires were lit. The day of the burning.

These are his words. This is what he told me today. I do not know the full extent of what he endured, but I understand the sick obsession he developed with the ways of the world. The way things worked.

He is a loving man, and he cares deeply for those that he has welcomed into his circle. He educates them, and he is looking forward to being given the chance to educate you also.

Where did Brother Jack Come From?

Normally, when a character appears in my mind, I can trace where he came from. I can piece together the moments of my day that led to his creation. Brother Jack, however, is different. I cannot quite fathom when he came to be. He feels as if he is part of me. The more he talks, and the more I listen, for when Brother Jack talks, you cannot help but listen to him, the more I start to think that he was nor created, but born in the deepest corner of my mind. He was produced and now he has decided that this is his time to rise. He is not asking me to tell his story, he is telling it to me, and I feel compelled to pass it on. Maybe it is because what he has to say, is far too harrowing for even a man like me to take.

Obviously, Brother Jack is not his real name. It was the name he gave himself upon his second birth. He has a lot of people that listen to him. He has a lot of people out in the world who are willing to do what he asks, simply because he asks it. They do not question him, and are loyal to the extreme. You might say, if you feel so inclined as to try and categorize Brother Jack, that he is running a cult. The patriarch of a sect, a family, where every woman is Sister, and every man is merely a tool. You see Brother Jack likes the ladies, and whether they are willing to admit it or not, the ladies will love Brother Jack.

Cult

I am not ready to tell the story of Brother Jack. I only met him recently, and while he has not stopped his whisperings, he has done little to educate me in the wider construct of his life. As I have said several times, I have two other novels currently on the go, but I am fascinated by Brother Jack. I know he is not a nice man, not by the constraints of social opinion, but I like him. He has struck a chord with me, and I would feel as if I were abandoning him were I to just bury him in a few lines on a ‘Book Notes’ files somewhere in the corners of my Dropbox folder.

As should be the case with a man of his particular interests and desire, he is rather charismatic, and I am loathe to turn my back on him. So, while I cannot actually tell his story just yet, I am strongly considering giving him a regular post on my blog. A post devoted to the ‘Word of Brother Jack’. It will be his own place, where he can unburden himself, and introduce you all to his world. What do you think? Should I hand my blog over to a cult leader, and one of the most deranged, and dangerous individuals my brain has even conjured.

Brother Jack’s true image is still percolating in my brain, but I currently see him as a cross between Captain Spaulding and Bray Wyatt. He is a fairly large man, and he walks with a cane. He has a back injury at the moment, but once he has healed, he is a strong, strong man. I can’t wait to learn more about him, and I think giving him a place to preach will help me keep his development going, placate his yearning for attention, and still allow me the peace of mind to finish my current novels.

 Captain Spauldingbray wyatt

The only thing that worries me, well maybe no worries, because I love pushing buttons and boundaries, is that Brother Jack is certainly not for everybody, and to give him a place to sound his voice, dare I say a place to perfect his voice ahead of his big book debut, might cause some folks to run and hide from me, rather than following me. I will not censor the Brother Jack posts, they will be raw and real, I will probably use real time current affairs, mixed with a little hint of fiction to give him something to preach about each week, and maybe work on revealing small glimpses of his own character development as I go.

I know I have been saying this a lot lately, but I am really excited to explore Brother Jack and see how dark I can make him.

Another thing that concerns me is that maybe, just maybe, I am crossing too many lines with this one. Or rather, I could do, if someone is not there to reel me in from time to time. Boundaries are there to be broken, but how far is too far?

Writing What is Hot to Sell More Books

When I first started writing, one of the key things I was always told is, write what you know. This, to me, was common sense. It is surely better to write about things, or locations you know, twisting and tweaking them into different places, but using the same base. Sure, you research and expand your knowledge, but to write what you knew made sense to me.

writing 7The other thing I always heard was, don’t write what is hot. Don’t follow the latest fad. Back then, back in the world before the writing revolution that was eBooks and self-publishing, this piece of advice made sense. When it could take two years for your next piece of fiction to finally hit the shelves, after having found a publisher to produce it, the fad you were following would be gone. Heck, timelines like that, the next two fads were already lined up for publishing while you were still chasing the original.

However, times have changed. The world has moved on and is a now a place governed by the instantaneous. We want to, and will not wait for anything. Correspondences, delivered in an instant, replies the same. Everything needs to be express, next day, same day deliver if possible. The same can apply to writing.

It is possible – and I am not saying this is the way it does go, or should go, it is merely an example – to write a story, edit and publish in, in say a week, after the writing process has been completed.

When you have turn around times that can be that fast, a few weeks, maybe just a month or two, if we are being realistic, is nothing compared to the ‘several years’ wait of before.

That changes the writing game. Fads, love them or hate them, are a part of our lives, they always will be. People follow what is hot. The only difference is, that now there is that much more opportunity to add fuel to the fire. An entry point, if you will. You can get your writing into the middle of a hungry pot.

I am not saying that this is a great way to build a career, but for all of those people out there, who read a book, fell in love with the concept and wanted to run with their own thoughts, the modern writing and publishing landscape could be a veritable goldmine for them.

Let’s take Fifty Shades of Grey as an example.

Think of it what you will, call it what you will, that book inspired an enormous fad. Everybody wanted to read it, and as such lots of titles sprang up covering the same themes. These books had always been out there. I know many writers, who were producing such books long before Fifty Shades was there. But the ability to write and publish books on such a quick turnaround, introduced a lot of new authors and readers, to a genre, or style of writing that they had never seen before.

The writing world has changed, it is still changing. Will the fad become the new way forward? Will it become an even morewriting 8 dominant movement, with writers flitting from genre to genre, keeping up with the times? Or will the fads end up dying out quicker and quicker? The market gets flooded too much, too soon, and like a car engine, it just says, ‘Whoa, slow down Timothy.’

Could it even be conceivable that writing itself could just become the fad? Everybody can write and publish, so what would be the need for such a popular single channelled frenzy?

What do you think? Are fad movements being strengthened or weakened by the evolving writing landscape? How can we, as writers look to use this, if at all, to our advantage?

I do have another post on this similar topic planned, looking at it from a different perspective, and that will come later in the week, but for now, I would love to hear your thoughts on the above.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share this post around with anybody you think might enjoy it. The more the merrier, that’s what I always say.

Do you fancy giving one of my books a try? Come on over to my author page on Amazon and take your pick. I have novels such as Highway to Hell and Blood of the Tainted, through my chapter book zombie series, Diaries of the Damned.

The majority of my books are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program, so if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read them for free!

Also, you can now sign up to my mailing list, via the sign-up sheet on my homepage. That way you will always be the first to know what is going on, any promotions I am running, appearances I may be making at conventions and festivals, etc. On top of that, everybody that signs up, gets a FREE eBook delivered to their inbox.