James Oliver French's Blog

October 14, 2015

Life Got In The Way

Oops. It seems that life has really got in the way of my writing the past few months. To put things into perspective, I'm in the final year of studying towards a second degree. It's incredibly demanding of my time, and I've been struggling to find the time to sit down and dedicate to my next book. I keep saying "just now", which if you know any South Africans, it doesn't mean "right now", it means maybe now, maybe sometime soon, maybe never.

But in the past couple of weeks there has been a sudden change, a surge in productivity. I can thank two recent additions to my writer's toolkit for making a difference.

First, I discovered Dragon Dictate. It struggles with my accent a bit, and my microphone isn't fantastic, but it's a darn side faster than typing, once I got the hang of it. The second thing I discovered was the Pomodoro technique. It came as part of a writing app that I saw recommended on a blog site called Writeometer from the Google Play store (it's FREE). You enter the estimated word count for your project, the days you usually write on, and then it reminds you on those days how many words you need to write to reach your goal. It's AWESOME!

So my plan is to enter NanoWriMo again this year. Only this time I'm armed with a story outline, Dragon, and Writeometer, to ensure that I hit that 50k word target. The book I'm going to write is a horror/thriller set near Queenstown in New Zealand. It's a story I've had percolating in my head since high school, which is now a very, very long time ago. It's going to be action packed with cannibals, chase scenes, gun fights, and a few twists in the tale. I just hope I don't lose my citizenship for writing it ;-)

Anyway, I'd better get back to study.
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Published on October 14, 2015 20:06 Tags: cannibals, horror, life, nanowrimo, new-zealand, pomodoro, queenstown, study, thriller, writeometer

June 21, 2015

Eenie, meenie, miney…

I’ve always been somewhat of an indecisive person, especially when presented with an array of equally appealing choices. For example, this issue arises when I have to select something from the menu at my favourite restaurant, or choose where I’d like to go on holiday. At worst, I end up staying at home and eating in. Apparently it’s called “vending machine syndrome” and I’m sure the analogy is obvious enough to work out.
Right now, I’m presented with a similar dilemma with regards to the next project I’d like to work on. This is where I stand with writing projects at the moment:

1.) Young Adult – Historical Time Travel Adventure
- Research and Analysis: 100%
- Outline: 90%
- Progress: 2%
2.) Self-Help Guide (written under a pen name)
- Research and Analysis: 70%
- Outline: 90%
- Progress: 20%
3.) Young Adult – Invasion/Dystopian
- Research: 90%
- Outline: 90%
- Progress: 0%
4.) Sci-Fi Utopian/Dystopian
- Research: 99%
- Outline: 75%
- Progress: 0%
5.) Sci-Fi Time Travel Adventure
- Research: 100%
- Outline: 100%
- Progress: 0%
6.) Love-Triangle Crime/Thriller
- Outline: 100%
- Progress: 2%
7.) Survival Adventure
- Research: 99%
- Outline: 85%
- Progress: 1%
8.) Straight Romantic Comedy
- Outline: 99%
- Progress: 0.2%
9.) Cannibal Horror/Thriller
- Outline: 100%
- Progress: 0%

To put things in perspective, this isn’t an exhaustive list. These are just my top 9 picks at the moment, which I’m all (almost) equally excited about. You see, the problem is that as soon as I pick up and start working on one project, one of the others becomes infinitely more appealing. The Psychology major inside me is screaming out that it’s just an extreme form of procrastination, much like marketing books on Twitter, but it’s like having a cupboard full of every type of chocolate and being told you can only eat dairy milk until its all finished before moving on to the hokey pokey.

I really shouldn’t complain. At least I don’t have writer’s block. But I don’t write full-time as I’m currently studying, and I’m supposed to use my writing time as efficiently as I possibly can. Grrr!

I’d be interested to know how other writers deal with the same situation. For now, I’m going to try focus on my YA Historical Time Travel, even though I’m more than a little bit scared that it’s not a popular YA genre at the moment. But who knows, in a year’s time when I’m finished writing it very well could be hot property.

Well, I better get back to work.

Hugs
James xo
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Published on June 21, 2015 15:40 Tags: antiquity, chocolate, projects, stud, time-travel, young-adult

November 22, 2014

Release day

Today (or tomorrow for those at the trailing end of the World clock) is the big day for Return to Me. The book, which has consumed every ounce of my spare time since its inception at the beginning of the year, is released today. I’m very pleased with the number of pre-orders the book has had, and I hope that those readers translate into reviews – fingers crossed.
There have been so many obstacles to navigate along the road to producing this book. I really had this bizarre idea in my head that it was going to be a walk in the park. But I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on interior layouts, cover designs, font choices, social media, and distribution. No wonder there’s a million-dollar industry dedicated to writing books about “How to write and sell books”. But I got there in the end, and my reward is a book that I’m so proud to see go on sale today.
Thank you, to the reviewers and readers who have posted reviews and comments thus far. I know that this book is going to alienate some readers, mostly those who have picked it up in the expectation that it is an M/M romance, which it most definitely is not. It’s also probably going to make a lot of people cry, in the same way that Romeo and Juliet made audiences cry way back in 1957. It’s not a book that should be skim-read, or you’ll miss out on a hell of a lot of very carefully placed subtext and tone, and it will undermine the ending.
My work on Return to Me is now done, so over to you, my readers. I hope that Kyle and Todd find a special place in your heart, like they have in mine.

Hugs
James x
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Published on November 22, 2014 11:16 Tags: pre-orders, release-day, return-to-me

August 27, 2014

And so it begins ...

Sometime in early January, I was struck by this sudden desire to write again. In my late teens and early twenties I devoted hours each day to drafting up storylines and screenplays, and somewhere along the way life got in the way and I stopped all that. I worked out that it had been almost ten years since I last put pen to paper - or rather fingers to keyboard - and I needed to do something to change that.

I started reading through my old story ideas, and settled on the one that I was going to translate into my debut novel. Then something strange happened. An idea popped into my head that inspired me to sit down and scribble down the outline for a story that would, eight months later, become Return to Me.

I never set out to write a tragic romance, but that's the beauty of the creative process, your creation grows and changes.

I am equal parts excited and terrified about the reactions my readers will have to the story. It's not a traditional romance because the love story gets cut abruptly halfway through the novel. There's also a sci-fi element that snuck in near the end of the story that has taken aback some of my beta readers, but I see it as a point of difference.

Anywho ... I best carry on with work. I'm 1/3rd of the way through rewriting an old short script that I wrote as a teenager title 'Ms. Milden and the Body Snatchers'. It's a twisted short story about a teacher from hell who gets her comeuppance in the end.

See ya later
James x
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Published on August 27, 2014 13:52 Tags: debut, ms-milden-and-the-body-snatchers, return-to-me, writing