Friday, 23 December 2011

Keep writing

Watched two really fabulous videos today. The first one is a hilarious account of cognitive illusion by Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics (Duke University). I love it when people explain complex processes through simple reference to every day situations, and then crack a few jokes along the way.

The second one is the "keep writing a lot" #1 tip from Amanda Hocking.

She is absolutely right and you cannot believe how much your writing improves through... well... more writing! I am used to academic writing but then again pulling together a novel is a completely different kettle of fish. It's more subtle, dynamic and experiential - a complete opposite to the boredom of the academic ink.

I just edited the first 150 pages, 100 to go so the progress is good and you know what, I actually like it. The hell with like, I love it, I love writing and editing my novel. I really love the story, I love my characters and I'm happy with the outcome. Ah, I look forward to my future writing adventures!

Friday, 16 December 2011 insanity!?

Have you ever heard of insanity? No? Yes? Well, where do I begin? I finished my novel or so I thought... This is just the beginning actually! I've got to edit it now and after reaching 60 pages (out of 250+) this seems like a mammoth task. Yes, I'm editing in my other life as an academic writer of research papers and yes, I edited my textbook but editing a novel is something else entirely.

I got in touch with what seems to be a really fabulous copy-editor and got this advice: "My advice is to not rush and submit when you are 100%, or so sick of the book you can't face reading another word, whichever is first." Thanks!? No, no, only joking, I know they are right but it is far tougher than I thought.

Christmas is around the corner and I am now spending nights editing. It's not such great fun as writing a novel but it's got to be done and the good news is that my gluten-free diet does wonders. Right, off to bed now.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Title or something of that sort

That's it, I've revealed the title to my wife... ooooough, I can't believe it! Yes, the mistake is irreversible and I've been banging my head... Wait, shut up Mike, what are you talking about for crying out loud!? No, no, let me begin again! I've spelled out the title to her and I am the most grateful person on the planet. Why? Because she criticized my subtitle to smithereens with these exact words: "You include this subtitle and your target readers are never going to pick up your book, no matter how good it is!" and she is right (my ego was twisting in pain).

And the title iiiiiis? Devotion & Deception

Yeah, it pretty much reflects the plot and the epic struggle of my main character. Of course, I'm not going to tell you what subtitle I managed to ink down on a paper because the more I think about it the more I recognize a political commentator jumping out of my mouth and fingers for that matter.

I also have to tell you that I am on a break right now... finishing off my academic journal papers, reviewing 200+ pages of my students' theses and writing 30+ page proposal(s). Yeah,... I know... but then again, I'll be rich soon and then who'll be laughing...

Oh, yes, one more thing! I was on a look out for a good writing tips blog today (well, like 10 minutes ago) and I found the most hilarious blogger writing about novel writing tips out there. I mean, just look at what he's got to say about writers suffering from writing maladies. A stand-up comedy style of advice extraordinaire! Hey, that's an idea for a new type of seminars, workshops and other advice-giving gatherings - make it like a stand-up comedy. Bloody hell, I might actually try this!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Anxiety kicks in

Here we go, the official period for editing and reviewing has begun and as soon as I finished the 80,000 word book demons of doubt have awaken from their long sleep (yeah, I think it was a pretty long sleep). Looking back at the text I immediately spotted mistakes, particularly in the final stage that is supposed to set the tone for its sequel. I'm not sure whether this is normal or not but I feel numb after spending more than two months writing almost every night and not going to bed before 3am, only to face the grueling schedule of lectures and my academic engagement afterwards (i.e. a glamorous life of the author in the making I guess...).

I loved writing my first novel and I think the story is gripping, with lots of utterly unexpected twists and turns but   the demons keep telling me all sorts of things that will need to be corrected. Again, is that normal? Does that happen to all writers? I'm not sure but whatever the case I shall leave it for a week now and then commence the editing. It will take a few rounds of editing before I can send it off to a copy editor, and I will also give the book to a few people to read but I'm doing it for the first time and I totally dread the prospect of severe criticism, no matter how valuable it is. I am not going to pretend, a man takes some time to get used to criticism and I'm not sure how much time I will need (go away ego...).

On a more positive side, have you ever noticed how listening a fabulous song over and over again takes away its shimmer? Why is that, I wonder? You first can't stop listening but after a while your mind and soul stop reacting. Is that the consequence of consumerism - i.e. we need a constant influx of new ever more exciting stimuli? Perhaps it's our human nature that is flourishing in consumerism though I don't feel ashamed - I got bored of one particular song recently (though I'm not going to tell you which one... cheeky!).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Train of ideas... Ideas on a train

I'm just heading to Ascot and it's only a 30 minute journey but immediately ideas are flying in from left, right and center. I have the same experience whenever I'm traveling. Why is that so, I wonder? Perhaps seeing a different environment and people have got something to do with this, I don't know but it is peculiar.

Last night I almost reached 70,000 words so I'm a happy chap today and not tired at all. I'm really happy with the book and actually look forward to editing, believe it or not. I'm giving an early morning lecture tomorrow and have a series of meetings and lectures afterwards so no writing tonight but the weekend will mark a historical milestone as I think the book will be finished by Sunday (fingers crossed, you know how life is).

OK, off to a meeting now...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Just having a sneak preview of the Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and the first few pages already scared the hell out of me! Why? Well, I am currently going through the copy-editing process for my new professional book that is coming out in April 2012 (yeah, don't ask, it's a nightmare being involved with two different books let alone two genres).

The key finding of that process is that copy editors aren't doing their job very well and this book actually tells you why this is so. They are overburdened with work and the process is far from meticulous. I don't blame them as I am in a situation like this myself - desperately trying to keep myself afloat and DO things PROPERLY! It is really tough and that is why the above book is so scary - it basically says fiction writers should self-edit up to the hilt before sending anything to copy editors. No wonder why I keep being awake till the early morning hours almost every single day.

No choice, I'll do it several times and the book needs proofreading anyway so there is no excuse really. I love writing and if that involves mastering self-editing then so be it, I'll do it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ups and downs II.

I should have finished my book by now... Yeah, right, as if things are ever so easy. I studied chaos theory and should know by now long- or even medium-term plans never work out. Actually, I do know this and that's why I am not depressed too much. Hell no, I'm lying to myself! I am depressed but I know I can't turn back time.

My day job managed to turn the past week into a running-around-like-a-headless-chicken kind of time leaving me very little energy to write the remaining few thousand words (even my delicious gluten-free diet couldn't help this time round).

Yeah, I am really close and I can see the whole story nicely folding up within the next 5,000 words. This should be a matter of a week,... yeah, we'll see but whatever the case, I am heading in the right direction and I love how the book is evolving into a piece of work that begs for continuation.

In the mean time, I've got to finish reading a thesis, preparing a presentation for next week's Oil & Gas conference (don't ask...) and most definitely completing the review of a journal paper as the deadline is on Friday!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Keep going

I took a break last weekend and moved on during the week but my day job took a good part of me so I left the working week on Friday completely drained. My daughter got an ear infection puncturing her ear drum so I decided not to write anything during the weekend. I need to be with my family and take some more break before completing the novel.

Despite the setback, the story keeps unfolding into a set of twists and turns poised to keep my readers glued to the book since anything can happen to my characters, and I'm not just talking about the main character here. All of this makes me very happy and yet another short break is proving more productive than I originally dared to believe.

All in all, 10 more days to complete the first draft but now, I've got to focus on my family and my daughter in particular, poor little girl. It will take 2 months for the ear drum to heal itself and her daily routine has changed overnight but I still remember the nightmares of childhood diseases so nothing new on one hand but a terrible feeling when it comes to your own child.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


I had to take a break over the weekend and committed a sin! I didn't write a single word... Damn, I felt so guilty but that's what happens when you're writing several books at the same time. Yes, yes, it is all my fault but I managed to get everything else sorted with the publishers and here I am, back at my novel again.

60,000 words I reached just a couple of minutes ago and my gluten-free diet is doing some real magic here. Thank you so much Goran Djokovic for revealing your secret! I tried it out of a joke but I can tell you now this is damn serious. I can work whole day, come home and assemble an IKEA computer desk before dropping my fingers onto the laptop keyboard and type,... and type. It's 2am in the morning and I should get some sleep but I can tell you, gluten-free diet works, 100%.

Off to London tomorrow, this should be fun though... and more posts to follow.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Halloween weekend and my chance to have a decent sleep only to realize I've got to stick to my plan and keep writing. It's not that I wouldn't have anything to write. Nah, there's plenty of twists and turns that have either already been there or they just appear from nowhere (kind of fun). I feel tired though and having a day break on Friday, as I traveled up north to attend a meeting in Manchester, made things worse. However, my daughter impressed with her Halloween ingenuity.

They were having a Halloween birthday party (yeah, don't ask) and she pulled out her old costume only to find out several pieces have either been torn or broken. Tears at first but then with a little nudge she managed to rescue it all within a few minutes. Mum and dad team work made it so much easier and everything was sorted before you could say Jack Robinson. Trick-or-treats tomorrow with our friends so more fun to follow, bless her.

Oh yes, I also found some really fabulous writers on Twitter and it was all pretty much accidental. Here are some that are definitely worth following: @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman), @angelakulig (Angela Kulig) @ComicBookGrrl (Blake Northcott).

OK, let me finish my 2,000 words for today...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Writing tips

Here we go, I kind of need to say something about that as well, don't you think? After all, I am writing a novel and should at least be aware of some tips and techniques floating in the virtual space (if not beyond). Yes, yes, I did say this already but I am still amazed at the amount of free information available online! First of all, I've got to mention Amanda's advice on removing as many variations of the verb "to be" as possible. That by itself made me much more imaginative with my sentences. You need to get used to a new writing style but overall it actually isn't that difficult.

Reading good books helps as well. Pride and Prejudice is free on Kindle but there is also James Joyce who invented completely new dimensions in language creativity. I know all this because I watched Stephen Fry last night where he in his renowned demeanor painted James's story around language and food for that matter.

But in addition to the above I guess it is worth mentioning a few incredible sites where an eye paying attention to little details can find all sorts of impressively helpful advice. The Daily Writings Tips is one such source and I'm really glad people are so willing to share their experience and ideas. My novel is getting better and better every day just because of such contributions. I totally enjoy writing it and cannot wait every night to sit in front of my laptop and so some proper writing. You'll see, you will like it!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fatherhood, mounting events, etc.

I regularly read various blogs that reveal more or less known novel writing tips. Some are better than others but all in all they mostly give away the inner working of a story, and all that free of charge. I'm really grateful for all the effort these bloggers have exerted just to tell others how to write well. Altruism clearly hasn't died yet.

I'm an engineer so Peder Hill's diagram immediately resonated with my thinking and I regularly use his recommendations to check my writing. On the other hand, his video on fatherhood made me think as well. It's interesting how life evolves in mysterious ways. Whilst I have selected novel writing to liberate my inner voice and escape the rat race of the 24hr academic life, Peder talks about the curse of non-stop fiction writing and in his words "stupid projects". No offence Peder but let me tell you, there are far worse projects out there that prevent fathers from spending their time with children, and I'm not talking about not being able to devote sufficient time to play with them and their growing up. What I am talking about is time wasted on stupid meetings and consequently not being able to see your kids at all.  AT ALL (well, apart from a day here and there but that surely shouldn't count)! So, I would alter his advice and recommend the marvelous video he created to everyone who falls under this second category because I believe novel writers spend several-fold more time with their kids than most academics or business people.

Oh my, that was now a rant on a painful subject. Anyway, coming back to novel writing tips I realized today that my crises, as Peder puts it, develop almost spontaneously and even I am intrigued by the mounting problems the main character is exposed to. It's interesting because this doesn't happen on purpose although I do craft my writing on a well structured plot. You'll love it as it really builds up the tension. So, I guess, it's worthwhile saying I can hardly wait till my next batch of writing tomorrow evening (after a whole day of academic stuff, that is... and yes, I do spend my time with kids every day).

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ups and Downs

I was just thinking today why is it that we experience ups and downs. I woke up today in the morning feeling exhilarated and full of energy. Whatever I did during the day was blessed with a soothing feeling of accomplishment and it felt fabulous yet surreal. How is it that only a day difference can push you into a diametrically opposite direction and you almost feel as if the end of the world is nigh.

To my horror I then went about reading a little bit on Stephen Fry's experience with bipolar disorder, the mental illness that kills about 2,000 people a year in the UK alone (i.e. suicide). Good grief, this has scared the hell out of me! I think my own experience with ups and downs is nowhere near what Stephen went through but then again it made me think.

I believe my ups and downs are just a matter of perception and I refuse to accept that this is associated with any mental illness but I'm still intrigued by the dynamics of ups and downs as they appear and disappear for no reason at all. Whatever the case, should you experience anything of that kind and have suicidal thoughts, please don't keep it to yourself though! Speak to your doctor and your loved ones and don't let your mind kill you.

God, is that a depressing post or what! Sorry, just had to pour it out...

Monday, 17 October 2011

30,000 words

I couldn't really do much for the past week or so. My day job is really interesting but terribly demanding and running a block module last week meant I couldn't even Tweet anything. Having said that, I made a really good progressed and exceeded 30,000 words a couple of days ago. Should be at 40,000 by the end of the week but let's see. The story is developing really well although you will eventually decide whether it is good enough. I'm adding new and new circumstances and problems and continue exposing my main character to ever increasing challenges. I'm happy with the way the story builds on past complications of some of the characters but I'm sure I'll edit it several times before sending it off to professional editors.

There is one more thing that occurred to me in the past few weeks. Being an academic is fun in its own right but the academic world itself is sinking into an eve growing abyss of self-fulfilling prophecies of immensely arrogant quasi-academics who believe they are right in every single activity  they get themselves involved in apart from the time when they resort to procrastination. Mind you, there is really, really very little room for proper science in all this so I have now finally decided that academia is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I much more prefer writing novels and running my own business where you know precisely what you should and shouldn't do. Furthermore, I can always use my own companies to do some proper and useful research as opposed to figuring out whether I am methodologically well positioned. God, what nonsense!

Anyway, I have found a couple of interesting professional editors so all is well on this front and my Chinese manufacturers are pretty damn good too. Ah yes, this is something I ought to write about in one my future blogs when I launch my new online store. OK, let's get back to writing!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

20,000 words

No, I am not obsessed with numbers but a few minutes ago my typing reached 20,000 words and I am thrilled. You may wonder why though. Well, my plan is to type some 1,500 words per day and when the nighttime is the only period of the day you can spare for writing, this can be a challenge. Not to worry, I am not whining, it's just a fact, pure and simple.

I am also excited as my central characters' circumstances are getting increasingly complicated making typing faster but also more interesting as I get under their skin feeling all the terrifying moments they are going through. I'm not going to reveal more (for now) but the idea is to keep my readers on their toes all the time, or even increasingly so as they progress through the book.

Eh, what the hell, I'll say something, OK. Well, it's about a terribly wrong-footed romance, which gets ever more complicated (including numerous smaller and bigger twists in between).

That oddly just reminded me of the Meredith Kercher case (no, my novel is not even remotely connected to the case)! It's one of the most abused mystery murders ever and I'm sure many will be crowding round Amanda and Rafaelle for various obvious reasons.

Having said that, it's an intriguingly disturbing case and I cannot make up my mind what to think. They have released her and Rafaelle Sollecito so thinking about the case it is disturbing if they spent four years in jail for nothing, it is equally disturbing if they have released murderers who look like angels and it is also disturbing that all the focus is on Amanda and Rafaelle yet Meredith Kercher, who was brutally murdered has been all but forgotten. That's why I intentionally didn't write Amanda Knox case above...

...and to steer into a completely different direction, Krugman is brilliantly amusing in depicting economic reality. Before finding Krugman I never thought a person could laugh reading a blog on macroeconomics.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Word count

I regularly use word count to find out whether the word limit has been reached but it never occurred to me that word count is something to keep me going through long nights of writing. Though, this is when my writing is flowing like a well oiled machine. It's a completely different story when your fingers don't jump so vigorously on the keyboard as you would normally expect. It happened yesterday and I found myself battling with the word count.

My expectation is to write 1,500 words a day. It doesn't sound like much but it certainly looked like Mt. Everest yesterday. I feel much better today exceeding 2,000 words with ease but it feels amusing and bewildering that word count can make you think so much. Shouldn't I be much more concerned about the WHAT of writing? Well, I am, don't take me wrong but the count itself sitting at the bottom of Word processors is always there constantly reminding me of the inevitable battle with words and time. Is this writing driving me mad or is that something every author is going through?

Thursday, 29 September 2011


I also looked around to find out what successful indie writers are doing and accidentally discovered Amanda Hocking. She is a fabulous young writer and I finished reading a few days ago. Anyway, Amanda is earning millions of dollars but to me it's more amazing that she's got a granny in Reading, England (I live here) and that she asked for an agent via her blog, referring to a book The Secret, months before she even started self-publishing her books on Amazon! The Law of Attraction clearly delivered. Why am I saying this? Because I read the book The Secret, in fact I read many more, and I believe in the law of attraction.

So, let me copy Amanda (I hope she doesn't mind) and let the Universe know what I want. Well, I want to sell the first 100,000 copies by March 2012!

Here we go, I've said it and to quote Amanda: "The Secret thing worked for Oprah and Ellen. I hope it works for me..." It worked Amanda, my sincere congratulations, you really deserve it but now I hope it works for me too...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

My first novel

One might think I just decided to begin writing novels but the story is far more complex and mysterious. I always wanted to do some writing and the early beginnings can be traced to my primary school times but my writing adventures always stopped at about 50 words. Yeah, believe it or not but I just couldn't write more than a few sentences, and that was it. Looking at my bookshelves I never understood how could all these authors write hundreds of pages. That's like 70,000, 100,000 or even more words. It just didn't work out for me and envy was the only thing that remained with me for many years to come.

The real change started with my PhD when I was asked to produce a piece of work as large as universe or to a seasoned writer, somewhere around 100,000 words. God bless I said to myself but after three years of pain I actually managed to produce something to be proud of. More than 10 years later I got an idea to write a boring professional book about my frustration with the construction industry (Construction 2.0). I did, jointly with Prof John Bennett and I am really happy as the two of us work together like a Swiss clock. Well, the book eventually got a bit more digestible title (Construction Management Strategies: A Theory of Construction Management) but we're still pretty provocative and I'm happy with the result.

Then I thought to myself that now is the time to begin writing a novel and I did - last week. I've got 12,000 words so far and I am thrilled! Why? Well, it was a hell of a journey since my 50-word beginnings but I can now write for hours and even create a story. Don't laugh, it's a huge progress! It's a romantic novel about a student that fell in love with a girl, ends up in war and realizes there are people one doesn't even notice that can really make a difference. My plan is to finish it by the end of November and complete it just before Christmas - again, fingers crossed!