Archive for November 2013

Modeling haunches & Z Fashan Launches   Leave a comment

It is often said that art imitates life, and I also wonder, does life imitate art? My new novel, “Naked As The Day“, takes readers into aspects of the fashion world in Tokyo, including modeling. Recently, a friend of mine called me to ask me to model in her new endeavour, Z Fashan. I said why not. It is easy to get into a funk over the demands of self-publishing, and this was a welcome escape. The event was sponsored by Campari, photos courtesy of Red Square Events, with clothing designed by Zaid Smith. Checkout future updates from the line here.

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Posted November 26, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

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My new Tokyo-Based Novel: “Naked As The Day”   Leave a comment

Glad to announce my new novel will be released on December 10th, 2013 and it is entitled, “Naked As The Day”. The book trailer is below, plus a book description. To get your free chapter, go to

www.nakedastheday.com or click the image of the book on your left.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When a typical twenty-something year old English teacher in Japan develops severe physical and psychological aversions to his daily routine in a small town, he decides to move to Tokyo with a few months worth of savings in search of more stimulating horizons. As his physical symptoms remain, and now hit with the demands that come with living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, he must take a fast track course in both survival and self-actualization from a host of characters including libidinous transients, self-proclaimed celebrities and kleptomaniac models.  Armed with a few skills in the face of an uncertain future, Naked As The Day takes us on an occasionally humorous and poignant journey of human choices and ultimately their consequences.

* * * *

I’ll be posting more information as time passes as I gear up to get into serious PR mode.

One Novel, 4 1/2 weeks   Leave a comment

I’m 100% finished with my first draft of my new novel, so presently i’m in relax mode.

I’ve spent the last several weeks writing mostly through the night for my new novel set in Japan which i’ll be promoting very soon. As I let a friend give it the first read through, it is interesting how calm my mind feels now. There is a certain kind of ticking madness that can come with having a project hanging over your head. A pounding, relentless need to birth it that can be overwhelming. Once I’m done getting it all on paper, doing the editing and looking forward, I being to understand the sense of relative achievement that comes with something like this.

I’m spending the day watching Woody Allen movies and lounging around. Whatever the next plan for me will be, it won’t be as high stress, nor as heavily demanding. I wrote a blog post about being a 10 page a day writer, and I used the information contained there to pen my latest project in about 18 days.

18 days, 75,000 words. (factoring a gap week )

Then I spent the last week re-reading and doing edits. So call it 4 1/2 weeks to the start and finish of this novel. Possibly I might do something more detailed, an ebook perhaps, on punching out a novel quickly. Possibly in January I might work on another project, using some of these methods to have more product ready for the new year. We’ll see.

But it is good to feel relaxed (for now) and i’m ignoring any desire inside me to re-read chapters, puzzle character motivations or that stuff. For two days it is just me, the TV and possibly junk food. One of the best parts of coming off the high of doing something that demands such ridiculous focus and energy… is simply, going low and staying there for a little while.

I will have a month of promotion ahead, so I’m going to take my relaxation time while I can.

cheers

Editing part 3: The Relativity of Speed   Leave a comment

From whence this beard came, I know not.

From whence this beard came, I know not.

I am shocked.

I feels like only five minutes ago I looked on the kitchen wall clock, which clearly read “4:45 am”. It is now 5:45 am, and in the last hour i’ve only edited four pages. I’m not sure if its the fact that i’ve been on a bizarre cycle of time this last month, but as I’m working on this re-edit an hour feels like five minutes. Going through the draft is one part reading, one part writing and one part analysis. It is a slow process. It can take me thirty minutes to finish a page properly. If I have to pause and think about what the page is saying, how this relates to things down the road, and changing something that might create an inconsistency it can take longer.

It is now 7:39 a.m, and again, if the sun hadn’t come up, I wouldn’t know that i’d been working since midnight. I’m approaching five weeks of this activity, of long dark nights with missing time, spent in this world of my making. I felt like writing about this idea of time because initially there was a part of me that just wanted to be done. i wanted to quickly gloss over the script, do some light edits and then get it out there. But in reality that isn’t how it can effectively work if you are doing it solo. 

I don’t have the luxury of a team of writers or copyeditors. For now I have myself and time, and in this regard, time is my friend. So the first day was a bit difficult, as i realized that not only would I be re-reading the novel, but doing so very slowly and very deliberately. I’ve had to take in many a chapter sentence by sentence, modifying very slight descriptions, taking out unnecessary particles and those kinds of things, and rewriting sections that don’t flow properly. Sometimes the writing is light, sometimes heavy.

Because i’m doing this early legwork by myself, I’ve been careful to utilize a method that gives me the best results in a reasonable period of time, so I am not forced to read my novel again. Why? When I was in the last stages of getting “Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken” published, I kept finding errors in my manuscript. A punctuation error here and there, something factually incorrect or a typo, stuff that i don’t really want in my final product. Then I would go through the book, kill some errors and find more. At the time, I didn’t want to go through it slowly, and I ended up having to read the book five times before I caught most of the errors, instead of doing one slow read through. You do NOT want to read a book five times, especially when you are supposed to be promoting it, not editing.

So, I don’t want that kind of stress on when i’m close to being able to enjoy being “actually finished” with a draft. I don’t want to worry that there are dozens of errors lying about when I’m doing my PR campaign. I just need to WRITE it, EDIT it, have a few people READ it, take FEEDBACK and then PUBLISH it.

WERFP to mother.

Once I accepted that this approach was quite different from pounding out 10-15 pages a day, I became relaxed. Slowly re-reading and modifying, I was doing about roughly 15-20 pages a day over a six hour period. It doesn’t take six hours to read 20 pages, but going through them line by line and thinking for a little bit about each line can take that long. So now i’m at a point where I feel like my draft will be reasonably “clean” and all i’ll need afterwards are the aforementioned opinions.

Not everyone can self-edit, but if you can do it slowly, there is a good chance you will spot what someone would have spotted anyways. But remember, I am somewhat obsessive, and pay attention to details most people can’t bother to so, do this at your own risk (malevolent laugh). I started this on the 11th of November, so the entire slow re-read for a 75,000 word novel took me maybe 5 days.

So I took a break from writing to write this (say that six times fast) , but I am putting in the last tweaks and fixes for my final chapter (can I get a Yay-men?)

So pretty soon, I’ll get to doing cool stuff like promoting the book and that sorta thing, and take a well needed break from the laptop. So look out for that.

cheers

I hope you liked this blog! Follow me on Twitter, watch my videos on YouTube and grab a copy of my novel Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken.

Editing part 2: Noticing personal patterns   Leave a comment

Just a quick post here on a part of the re-reading process and how I patch things up for the first “clean draft” I mentioned yesterday. A part of this is understanding how I write and any spotting redundancies I may put into my types of descriptions. When you are writing quickly (or slowly) you might use the same kinds of descriptions many times without realizing it, which to a seasoned reader might come off sloppy or lazy when they read through your manuscript.

I learned about this a few years ago, when I gave a published author (book deal and all that jazz) one of my short stories to read. She read it, and then explained to me two things. One, she said was that I wasn’t direct with my descriptions, I used too many ‘ing’ words (stuff like seemingly) and words like “almost”. What this did was reflect a sort of writer’s hesitance. “He almost gasped,” “a seemingly dark force was arriving”, “the night was almost dead quiet”, that sort of thing. Anyways, when I did a search in Microsoft word for “seemingly” in that story, I found it 22 times! (in eleven pages). This was the first time I learned about “self patterns” and eventually I made a rule for future writing projects to get rid of repetitive descriptive patterns after I finish a draft of something. Now, this is technically a form of “self-editing” and if you can’t self-edit, this mightn’t be easy. If you are familiar with your personal shortcomings as a writer and have a memory of things you tend to write over and over, then as you are reading through, make a note of things that appear more than 3 times, and work to change them. This is what i’m doing now. For example, I know i used the word “briefly” way too many times in the writing of my project. So I noted it as part of a list of patterns I felt I might have repeated more than twice. I did a search for the word and sure enough, I’d used the word 33 times.

briefly

‘briefly rolls nicely off the tongue doesn’t it?

This doesn’t mean there aren’t instances where the word isn’t put to good use, but when I check through the document, if I say things like “I paused briefly”, “he paused briefly” five or six times, then there is another way to write it, for better continuity. So i’ll go through the document and see how the word fits in its context, and then change it. I also noticed this for the term “a moment” which I really hung onto during the writing of this book.

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for a moment, I was ready to use a moment

 

So after I make this list, it is just a matter of rephrasing the sentence if the pattern is the same one. Seeing the repetitions doesn’t bother me at all, because depending on how fast I write, or what i’m writing, I might not always be thinking exactly of the perfect description, i just want something that works. That’s why the first clean draft gets a little polish, so that your phrases aren’t all sounding similar and smooshed together. So occasionally during the actual writing process, I will know when i’m using a word too much and I make a note of it. I do NOT bother to fix everything until I am finished with the first draft. Then I will make my list as I did below, and then polish accordingly.

wordlist

 

This is really a matter of just being in the zone as you are writing and getting the meat out of the way. I laughed when I saw a line:

“I paused for a moment, momentarily watching him as he briefly removed a perfect lock of hair from over his eyes.”

EGAD! Good thing I can spot these things before sending them out into the cosmos.

 

cheers

 

Editing part1: The swag read through   Leave a comment

editing2

I’m currently doing my first read through of the first draft, which basically is just getting a sense of the tone, spotting grammatical errors and then doing rewrites for repetitive terms. Often when a person sits and writes 10 pages in a row, the prose might be good, but then when you look back, there are a few run-on sentences, typos and also overused words. So right now i’m just reading through and fixing up stuff that sounds funny before I give to a friend to read. Once i’ve heard some of her observations, i’ll see about patching up any issues with plot or oversights i’ve made. The point of this is for me to give someone a “clean draft” with few errors, so they can focus on reading the product and allow themselves the freedom to think critically.

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re-reading the manuscript on the computer isn’t so good for my eyes, and I find I spot more errors on a printed page. A re-read requires slower more deliberate reading, which is less effective for me on the computer. So I printed out the first one hundred pages double sided. So I’ll read these, spot errors, make a note and then update it immediately (or later depending on where i am). I find this helps me to move very quickly and I won’t have any worries about re-reading the draft too many times.

Anyways, i’m gonna get back to it, cheers

21 days 75,000 words (first draft wrapped)   Leave a comment

earlymorn

Another dull red early morning sky has greeted me, and for the most part i’m done with the first draft of my new novel. Once you know exactly how the book ends, you’ve written the ending and there isn’t much else to write (except polish stuff, a little filler here and there and tense rewrites for certain parts) then your book’s first draft is done. Since I’m testing out a method of getting the book out quickly from writing to editing to publishing, I will need to have people read it quickly, while i do copyedits and then adjust any loose plots or general information with the story. It feels good to be “done” in a sense, but depending on the kind of book you have, “done” can be quite relative. However, since I mapped out my story reasonably well, all i’ll need from this point are the opinions of some people who

1. Like to read

2. Can give me feedback on things they like and don’t like.

THOUGHTS ON WORRYING ABOUT THE BOOK AS I WROTE IT

What is greatly different this time, is the extent to which i’ve worried about this book. With the last one, I stressed greatly about who would read it, what would they think, how it would be judged and that kind of mess. But, after you put the book out there (without the hoopla and fanfare of a major agency behind you) there a few things that might happen. The first is that few people might read the book and give you feedback, or some people don’t read the book at all. Then people that read the book and give you feedback don’t give you major feedback, if any. Which leaves you realizing your earth shattering book you feared to put out there will take significant work to find an audience. But more importantly, I learned books are all about market, market, market.

Strong genres are: Fantasy, Crime, Thriller, Horror, Romance

Niche stuff is: Coming of age, Literary Fiction.

My first book is a coming of age story about three Jamaicans set in DC for most of the book. It is not “common” nor easily “placed” in terms of marketing. I’m not saying its a bad read of course, I just mean it didn’t have a direct market. Though it has Caribbean characters it is not a very Caribbean book. It is all American, from the situations to the dialogue and the social challenges (which are based on American Culture). I figured this reality out VERY quickly, and knew that a book in Japan would probably attract an audience more easily, leading them to checking out my previous works. So it was good i had an idea relative to Japan, which has a different kind of curious reader.

So in a creative sense I wanted to write a book about Japan. In a logical sense, I was also writing a book to a more direct market of readers. There aren’t that many books popping out of Japan by people who’ve lived there, so there is an audience, however big that definitely exists. I couldn’t 100% define my audience when I wrote my first novel (which isn’t a problem, it’s just a function of the nature of the book).

Therefore, there was a collision of strategy and purpose based on the observation. Worrying about quality is relative now, because once you write enough (and get enough feedback) your impact becomes the balance of all things, (writing story and pacing) and if you are worrying too much about that, it will derail finishing the book. Millions of people say Fifty Shades of Grey was horribly written, and it is the best selling ebook in human history. Way more people liked it than those who didn’t, they found it “good” and that was enough.

Sure a writer wants a well written book, which is what I definitely aim for, but I can’t nitpick with myself when i’m doing a strategy. Writing a “good, functional” book, creates far less worry than mulling over a project for years (that may or may not be good or functional). Writing is relative to the audience, and if i write a book quickly or slowly at the end of the day, it is for them I am writing.

This didn’t happen with some of my early manuscripts, but during the writing of Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken I’d be hit with such heavy periods of self-doubt i’d leave the book alone for months and come back to the project out of phase with the story and the characters. I was hit with some doubt while writing this too, but I noticed it didn’t completely overwhelm me. I’d just leave the project for a day or two, not worry about it, and then come back and i’d be good to go. I learned to take it easy, slow down and put less pressure on myself as I focused on the outcome. (product and marketing)

The reason I put Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken out there, is because the book i’m presently writing (set in Japan) was gnawing at me. I didn’t want to start a new book with one unfinished, so I put that one out, and then immediately started working on this book shortly after (four months after release). I saw that diversifying is one of the only ways to attract new audiences. If one book doesn’t blast into the stratosphere, I can always try writing another one for a different target market, see how the audience reacts to it, and then plan accordingly. I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to write a crime novel, then a fantasy, then a romance just to see what people like. Initially, i’ll write about stories that i want to write about, but because books take so much effort to write, it is good to know if the market is the right one. 

HOW I FEEL ABOUT SHARING IT ALL

I put my rough drafts on the kindle to make it easier to read them and highlight errors.

I put my rough drafts on the kindle to make it easier to read them and highlight errors.

It has been good to be doing the writing and also sharing the process, so that in the future people can get a sense of the demands. What is on my mind more than anything now is the promotional strategy for this project, which will be more strategized up than my last novel release. The reason i’m not bursting with elation is because i’m mentally tired. This is the sixth full length manuscript i’ve ever written, but nowadays the mental toll on me is higher because I go mentally between puzzling out future public relations, cover designs, interviews, as I write the book, which isn’t always healthy.

BUT, not to worry new novelists. Most people cannot design a book cover, so they won’t have to worry about it (as I do, since I have design skills). In fact, I’m looking forward to testing some improved and less stressful methods of putting the book out there, without completely draining myself as I did earlier in the year when I was doing heavy PR for Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken. 

So you might be asking, what is the name of the book? what is the title? That will all be revealed quite soon, once I take care of important things like the book domain name and any possible media links I can snap up for promo purposes. Self publishing is a business with many tentacles, and i’ve never been one to start blasting a project out there way before I secure a few properties related to it (just in case). So over the next few days i’ll reveal the name of the book and probably drop a piece online for people to read. Then once i take care of some more things, I will see if I can make the book live for ebook purchase in a few weeks.

cheers

I hope you liked this blog! Follow me on Twitter, watch my videos on YouTube and grab a copy of my novel Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken.

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