Robin Williams – We’ll Never Have Another Friend Like Him…

It often seems I’ve skipped a rung
Some days, for what it’s worth.
I’ve missed a step – I’ve slipped and swung
To some peculiar Earth.

On days like these, those moments tossed
Emerge with careless haste -
To leave me hopeless, hurt and lost,
With bitter truths to taste.

I’m sure it seems absurd to hear
I’d grieve to let him go -
I’d close my eyes and shed a tear
For guys I didn’t know -

But all the same – I will a while.
That man I never met -
The man that made me laugh and smile -
I never shall forget.

~Reddit user poem_for_your_sprog

So the world’s funniest man killed himself.

Forgive me if I ramble here, I’m three sheets to the wind. Red wine and scotch, a delightful mix. And if the death of Robin Williams isn’t enough to fill your glass again then what is? Ah, Captain Charles Morris had words on that:

In these convulsive days,
I can’t endure the ruin’d fate
My sober eye surveys;
But, midst the bottle’s dazzling glare,
I see the gloom less plain,
And that I think’s a reason fair
To fill my glass again.

Perhaps not fair at all.

I guess this is what growing older feels like. You watch your heroes die. I wish they were dying a lot later than 63, though, surrounded by family and loved ones.

Comedy and tragedy are the oldest friends in the world. More than friends, close relations—brothers. Two sides of the same coin.

Let me do a roll call off the top of my head: Hook, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, One Hour Photo, Insomnia, Night at the Museum, Good Morning Vietnam, Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man, The Birdcage, Death to Smoochy, Toys…

And my favourite Robin Williams film—What Dreams May Come.

Dream Williams

There were many more, many great and (let’s be honest, can we be that, just the two of us?) some stinkers. But even a crappy Robin Williams film was better than most. Diamonds in the rough, so to speak.

Dead Poets Society! Holy shit, can’t forget that one.

Oh, man, Flubber…

JumanjiAladdin!

Aladdin Hug

No one really knows the heart and mind of another—not really and not ever—but Robin Williams always felt like a success story. A champion over the demon named Depression. A great man who left the world more laughter than what he took with him this morning.

He’ll always be the Genie. Peter Pan. Mrs. Doubtfire. He’s still laughing there. He’ll always be Chris ‘Christy’ Nielsen. Sean Maguire. John Keating. A legacy preserved in our memories. A monumental pillar of roles, built tall enough to pierce the clouds. Yet all balanced precariously on that double-faced coin, comedy and tragedy, standing—wavering—on its edge.

His death has caused me a great deal of sadness—sadness and gloom. A big part of my childhood died today. It looks like, in the end, that fucking demon sunk its teeth in too deep and just wouldn’t let go. But I think the man himself would not want us to dwell on such sadness. We must remember what Robin Williams stood for, even in the dark.

It wasn’t depression or sorrow.

It was laughter.

Williams - Hot Dog

 

Love, Loss, Longing – DLP Anthology #3

The ebook version of the latest DLP Anthology I had a hand in editing is now live on the Kindle store! Check it out:

Cover - eBook

 

Love, Loss, Longing – A DLP Love Story Anthology

The third volume in the DLP Anthology series contains 10 lovely stories – from romance, to heartache, and all manner of vampire love in the Old West!

Will an Alchemist betray his vows for the one he loves? Can a father avenge his child in a world gone mad with superheroes and villains? Follow two gunslingers, cursed with Truth, to a town of mirrors hiding cruel love.

Love, Loss, Longing contains work from 10 strong voices – authors new and seasoned and who see romance and love through a multi-genre lens.

Praise for DLP Anthology #1:

4.9/5 on Amazon Reviews.

“A truly excellent collection of stories. I would happily recommend any one of them individually, but in a single volume? A definite buy for the discerning short-story reader. Whether for bedtime reading, or those long, boring train journeys, these wonderfully written characters will delight your inner anti-hero and leave you wanting for more.”

“One of the best compliations of short stories I have read. Was blown away by the amazing variety of settings below the overarching theme. Definitely worth a buy and read!”

“There lies the major problem with this otherwise well-put-together anthology: as an assembly of work by mostly unpublished authors, I’ve been limited in my ability to further read work from them. Hopefully, either a second anthology or longer published works will correct this error.”

Pick it up now: Amazon US

How Writing Fanfiction Helped Me Become a Published Author

1,000,000 Words 

I got my start in writing stories about ten years ago now, when I was fifteen. I’d just read the latest Harry Potter novel, Goblet of Fire, and wanted to know what happened next. So I went online looking for theories, news, excerpts, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled onto the rampant and amazing fanfiction community. I think at the time – and this may still hold true – Harry Potter fanfiction was the largest selection of stories across all the fanfic websites.

I read a whole bunch of them, hundreds – the big names at the time – and some of those stories I still think about today, they were that good. These stories would be posted with updates every week, or month, or what have you – whenever the author had the time – and I’d be hooked. It was sort of like waiting for a new episode of your favourite TV show. Those fanfics, the really good ones, were being written by writers with some severe talent.

Why weren’t they writing their own original stories? Some of them were. Names you will recognise, I’m sure.

I saw the response and the cries for more these writers were getting, swept up by the majesty of it all, and thought it amazing.

So, naturally, I decided to start writing my own fanfiction. I chose the Harry Potter fandom not only because I loved those books and that world, but because it would afford my writing the greatest exposure. The community was active, rabid even, and wanted to be fed. What happened over the next few year surprised me. I ended up writing in excess of a 1,000,000 words on a trilogy of stories. And then starting again with another few novel length works set in the Harry Potter universe, which capped my total north of 1.5 million words. I was heavily influenced by all the authors I was reading at the time, from Stephen King to Matthew Reilly, but looking back at those fanfics and I can almost see myself learning how to write. The first chapter of the very first story was over 10,000 words long and not a lot happens. These days, I’d cut that entirely. I make all the mistakes a rookie writer makes, but my story was good. Great, even. People loved it.

I became one of those talked about writers on the forums, in blog posts, and people read my stories in droves. Tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and now and again some of them would leave me reviews. Thousands and thousands of reviews. My fanfics garnered praise and derision, were held up as shining examples and laughed at as pitiful failures, and most importantly I began to understand writing.

A little bit. Somewhat. Some would still say not at all. ;)

In short, I’d become a fiction writer—and for the most part, a well received one. How about that, friends and neighbours, just how about that.

From Fanfiction to Original Fiction

It wasn’t until I turned nineteen that I started writing stories in my own worlds. Characters of my own creation, places and settings and all the mechanics of a story. I didn’t know what I was doing, but then no one does when they’re just starting out.

I found myself imitating other writers far too closely, in the start, and having made the leap from J.K. Rowling’s wonderful world, I was almost still writing fanfiction, for all that mattered, because my stories had been told a thousand times before. Hero saves the day, gets the girl, the end.

It took many more years before I finally started to get my head around some of the work required to produce an original story. Ideas have and still do come at me from a thousand different places and in a hundred different ways. I’m only just now, ten years on, starting to get some of those ideas on the page in a readable manner.

Fanfiction taught me mechanics, how to tell a good story, and I know some famous authors consider it crass or next to useless, but those people are wrong, ladies and gentlemen. This article, which inspired my post, has more to say on the matter.

I would offer this advice to those writers just starting out, who are unsure and uncertain, that knocking out a few thousand words of fanfic in a popular fandom and posting it for critique can do wonders for your confidence. You’ll get honest reviews, harsh critiques, and even wonderful praise. A big step for any writer is to showcase their work to as large an audience as possible. You’ll learn a lot, I guarantee it.

What do you all think?

Join Joe’s mailing list here to receive updates about new releases.

The 1,000,000 Word Challenge

So I’ve set myself something of a challenge, dear readers, to start on July 1st of this year – in about five days.

I’m going to write one million (1 with six 0’s after it!) words in a year. The Australian financial year, to be precise – from the beginning of July 1st, 2014, to midnight on June 30th, 2015. I’ve chosen this number because it’s a nice round number, and because I like the idea of seven-figure year.

Previous years (not this last year, this last year has been god awful) have seen me hit 600k, and that was just as the mood took me, so this isn’t unreasonable. I’ll be breaking down the word counts below, though.

Also at roughly 70,000 words per story (my average), that’ll be about 14 novels.

So the math (because numbers are pretty):

1,000,000 words/365 days in the year = 2740 words a day (2739.72, precisely, so rounded up)

2740 words a day =

  • 19,180 words a week
  • 76,720 words a month
  • 1,000,100 words a year (so more than a million with the rounding. Heh.)

I won’t be aiming for 2740 words a day, though. No, no, no. I’m aiming for 3000+, at the very least. Every day I write more than the 2740 is a day that brings me closer to the target before the year’s up.

1,000,000 words/3000 words a day = 333.33 days

That means I could feasibly have 30 ‘zero days’. Or two and a bit days a month where I don’t write a word. This is assuming, of course, that I stop on 3,000 words. I’ve been known to write upwards of 10,000 a day, when I’m in the zone. Granted, these days are as rare as a pink diamonds, but we find a few of those a year, don’t we? Yeah, we do.

My general writing pace, once I force myself into the chair, varies between 800-1200 words an hour. Some times I can hit my stride and sink 1500 words in an hour, but let’s assume an average of 1000. Because that’s about right. So at a 1000 words an hour I should need 3 hours a day to hit my 3k target – and beyond. The math on 3 hours a day?

3 hours of writing/24 hours in a day*100 = 12.5% of the day.

That’s all.

Just over 1/10th of the day. Cut out visits to the pub and reruns of Doctor Who and I can find my 3 hours. I’ll be working full time 5 days a week, too, so the schedule will be important. Need to see the numbers to see if I’ll make it.

I haven’t forgotten about editing, either. Arguably where the real writing is done is in revision. I’ll be devoting between 90-120 minutes a day to that task. So another 2 hours. That’s 5 hours scheduled for writing and writing related tasks – producing the product that brings in those writing pennies.

5 hours of writing and editing/24 hours in a day*100 = 20.8% of the day.

So, 1/5th of the day. Still not entirely unreasonable. Perhaps a disciplined ask given other time commitments, such as work and sleep, but I want this, I want this bad, so I’ll aim to get my 5 hours.

Let’s look at a bit more math based on increased daily word targets.

1,000,000 at:

  • 4000 words a day will take 250 days (8 months or so)
  • 5000 words a day will take 200 days (6 ½ months or so)
  • 6000 words a day will take 167 days (5 ½ months or so)
  • 7000 words a day will take 143 days (4 ¾ months or so)
  • 8000 words a day will take 125 days (4 months or so)
  • 9000 words a day will take 111 days (3 ¾ months or so)
  • 10000 words a day will take 100 days (3 ½ months or so)

Could knock out a cheeky 10,000 words a day for the next 100 days and take 9 months off. Sorely tempting, but I imagine my delicate writer’s fingers will be reduced to ragged, bloody stumps if I attempted such madness. Tempting, though…

I’ll do weekly updates, I reckon, tracking the progress. Blog posts and such will not count toward the daily target. Only words of fiction that advance my stories.

I’m under no illusions here. I may miss this target severely. But I believe the numbers will count as motivation. No zero days, not really, and even if I walk away with a measly 500k, that’s still 7 or so novels. More than worth a year.

First update on July 7th – which should see me at around 20,000 words for the financial year.

So who’s with me?

Cheers,

Joe

 

The Reminiscent Exile on Kindle Matchbook!

Howdy, y’all,

Here’s some exciting news I forgot to mention. Honestly, I’m useless at this blogging nonsense (but working on changing that!). The Reminiscent Exile series, starring young, scarred and twice-dead Declan Hale, is now enrolled in Kindle Matchbook!

What does that mean, you say?

Well, if you purchase the paperback versions of any book in the series:

Distant Star

Broken Quill

Knight Fall

You get the ebook for Kindle at the sizzling price of $free.freefree! Yup, how awesome is that?

Somewhat awesome, I hear you say.

Hay Festival, London, and the Australia & New Zealand Festival!

So in the last few weeks I had the pleasure to fly into the United Kingdom for the Australia and New Zealand Literary Festival, held over the end of May to early June at King’s College in London. I spent two weeks in the UK and even managed to sneak on stage at Hay Festival in Wales to talk books.

Hay Festival

I was in London a few days before travelling across to Hay on the train. The countryside was amazing – so much green! It was about three and half hours, plus a half hour car ride, to get to the festival site. This was my first time at Hay Festival, both as a presenter and a visitor, and I have to say I’ll be heading back in future years. I could only spare the afternoon, for my event and signing, but some of the people they had on stage, like Stephen Fry and Jennifer Saunders, would have been worth seeing.

Here I am in a totally not staged action shot, reading in The Cube to an audience of a few hundred folk:

20140524_162704(0)

Hot, right?

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fill the time, a whole hour, but we actually went over by about five minutes. The session contained a reading, some discussion on how I write stories, then some links to my fiction from the counterterrorism and security side of the fence. I spoke on border security and reading body language, which led to a whole lot of questions at the end—some even about the books!

The Hay Festival was an experience, despite how little time I managed to spend there, and after the presentation they gave me not only a white rose but a crate of red wine. It’s like we’ve been friends for years.

wine

The train ride back to London was an experience. The rugby final in Cardiff had been the same afternoon, and the train back to Paddington was… busy. Heh. To say the least. In the space of an hour I went from rubbing shoulders in the green room with the likes of Stephen Fry, to being crammed into a ‘standing room only’ train. Rubbing shoulders, indeed. I ended up crammed into the toilet with four other blokes, all pissed out of their minds. If we’d had something to get into the crate of wine, those bottles wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes. Still, it was hilarious. If not for the festivals and the people I got to meet, 3 hours in the train toilet may have been the highlight of the trip. ;)

London

I had a few days in London after getting back from Hay before the opening night of the ANZ festival, so when I wasn’t working I went exploring. The hotel (Clarendon Grange in Bloomsbury) was within spitting distance of not only the British Museum, but an easy 10 minute walk down the Strand. Of the highest priority, I found the best bar in the area – which just so happened to be the Holborn Whippet. Oh they had 18 craft beers and ciders on tap. I’d try them all before I left a week later.

whippet

Also a damn decent kitchen – with currywurst and awesome, saucy pizza.

I met up with a friend for a few nights of drinking and exploring, and in between all that I scraped a few pages from the word mines, but nothing of real significance. I had all these plans to write down on the Thames, but alas for that.

Australia and New Zealand Festival for Literature and Arts

I had two events the weekend of the festival, both surrounding YA fiction. Well, three events, actually, as I also attended and did an hour’s talk at City of London School on the Monday, which went really well. I got to meet some fantastic people, authors, and artists. The opening night I had the privilege to listen to Tim Winton read from his new novel Eyrie and enjoy the open bar afterwards. You know me and open bars – often viewed as a challenge.

I won.

My events were on The Dark Side of Teen Fiction and Teen Fiction and the Land. My first event on the Sunday was just after lunch in an ornate council room at Kings College. Here I am with the panel:

1401665791101

In the teens vs. the land panel, I was in discussion with Geraldine McCaughrean, Lucy Christopher, and Anna Mackenzie. So I was feeling a little out of place, not only as the only bloke, but as to the quality of authors on either side. I was in good company.

I just recently finished reading Lucy Christoper’s book, Stolen, which was fantastic and absolutely nailed the desolate isolation of the Western Australian desert. Need to write up a review of that one, actually.

My second event for the day was around 4pm, and I was on a panel with the likes of Bruce Pascoe, Mandy Hager, and Nicole Hayes – we discussed the dark side of teen fiction, and writing about issues ranging from violence, to suicide, to mental illness, and so on. We were all in agreement that these issues are important within teen fiction and should be discussed. Here we all are:

Pascoe Dark Side

The City of London school visit was fun. I did a reading to a group of fourteen/fifteen year old school kids, in place of their daily English class. We talked counterterrorism and some of the finer points of how to turn words into a story. Believe it or not, they even had copies of The Reminiscent Exile series in the library – which marks the first time I’ve ever seen those books out in the wild. Rather exhilarating.

Joe-Ducie-CityofLondon-school-talk-II

Also did a cheeky signing in the school bookshop:

Joe-Ducie-CityofLondonSchool-bookstore

And so ended my time in London and the U.K. Over too soon. My writing career has been on the rise for the last two years, and I’m going to keep running with my words and these events, until folk wise up and realise I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Heh.

Back to the word mines,

Joe