Writing the Cherry Blossom and the Parang


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The background to writing, editing and marketing my new novel The Cherry Blossom and the Parang. I look at writing my first novel with the handicap of a stroke the things I had to learn, the characters and my future plans for writing.

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Writing the Cherry Blossom and the Parang

  1. 1. Learn more about the Novel
  2. 2. What is the background to this Novel? <ul><li>I lived in Sarawak in the mid 80’s and was fascinated by everything going on at the time; </li></ul><ul><li>Logging wars, elections etc. </li></ul><ul><li>I hasten to add the story is not my personal experiences although some events are based on things that did happen. </li></ul><ul><li>All the characters are fictitious of course. I really enjoyed my time there and met some lovely people. </li></ul>
  3. 3. This is your first novel - Did writing this produce any surprises? <ul><li>I wrote millions of words in business but was surprised how little I actually knew about writing. </li></ul><ul><li>My grammar was shocking. I had to learn about, plotting, dialogue, description and many other things. </li></ul><ul><li>I edited the book myself. Writing 90,000 words is not difficult. Rewriting, editing and copywriting are much harder. </li></ul>
  4. 4. You had a stroke – does this pose any problems for your writing? <ul><li>Not really anything I can’t overcome. </li></ul><ul><li>I type with one hand which slows me down a . I still do 7000 words in my writing day which is about 4 hours. </li></ul><ul><li>I have slight word blindness, (my excuse for poor spelling) I miss spelling mistakes and duplicates and other issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Mentally my imagination and creativity are higher than before. Since my stroke this has been a trend – I have done some reasonable drawings as well. </li></ul><ul><li>I enjoy the technical side of book marketing but I am impatient. I hurry and as a result I am careless </li></ul><ul><li>I am really lucky to have my wonderful wife Mel – who is now, editor, proofreader etc. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What was your experience of Miri? <ul><li>I lived in Miri in 1986 – working for Shell. </li></ul><ul><li>Darren’s house is the house we lived in. It was a happy time, my daughter was 2 and we were able to enjoy a lot of family time I had missed in the very busy preceding years. </li></ul><ul><li>We had ducks not dogs .They were called `Snoopy and Belle except by me, I called them ‘crispy fried’ and ‘a l’Orange!’ </li></ul><ul><li>Beach barbeques were a real highlight. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What was you experience of the Jungle? <ul><li>We had a trip into the jungle to visit a longhouse which was fascinating. </li></ul><ul><li>I climbed Mount Kinabalu in Sabah which was a terrific experience. </li></ul><ul><li>We had plans to see more of the jungle but that was when we had to leave. </li></ul>
  7. 7. How did you create the characters? <ul><li>I used the snowflake method to plot. </li></ul><ul><li>By writing from the perspective of each character plot and characters developed. </li></ul><ul><li>Cheryl/Xin became much more significant, that was not my plan but she became interesting. </li></ul><ul><li>Kirsty developed when the dialogue came to me as I sat in the car outside the vet when my wife took our old Labrador in to be put down. Poor Indy. </li></ul><ul><li>Other characters had to be rewritten a lot to avoid any connection with real people. Next novel everything will be fictitious – the world has far too many coincidences, no matter how hard you work to avoid these. </li></ul><ul><li>I chose photos of each character which I write against. </li></ul>
  8. 8. What made you chose these locations? <ul><li>The story chose its own locations. </li></ul><ul><li>I visited Raffles en route to Miri. </li></ul><ul><li>It was a different set of caves we visited in the jungle </li></ul><ul><li>The Triad lodge is invented, as is the hotel. </li></ul><ul><li>Real locations are Darren’s house (we had the nicest neighbours there), the GCM, various Oil Company locations and restaurants are derived from real places </li></ul><ul><li>And I did not like the suspension bridges I went over….. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Rape is a sensitive subject – how did you decide to cover it? <ul><li>I made a hash of it in my first draft. My poor ARC readers describing my too graphic descriptions as ‘disturbing’ </li></ul><ul><li>So thanks to them for their honesty. I did a 100% rewrite, avoiding the act other than by implication, it was much much better I think. </li></ul><ul><li>Sand violence I struggled to write. Less can often be more. I realise that my readers have vivid imaginations and want to develop their own images of what is happening. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Are you a committed environmentalist? <ul><li>I do believe that we desperately need to protect the rain forests. </li></ul><ul><li>I am not an activist in any way. I was an oil man but interestingly, most oil men I knew were also committed environmentalists. </li></ul><ul><li>I do believe in Sustainability – I do not think we are on top of the complexities of these issues, I hope some parts of this book make people think. </li></ul><ul><li>It was not written as a campaigning book. </li></ul>
  11. 11. How did you market this novel? <ul><li>I did my own marketing relying on generating followers for my Facebook page and my Blog- this is slow work. </li></ul><ul><li>I have a reasonable Twitter following but too much sales pitch – turns people off. It is friends you need not victims. </li></ul><ul><li>I did my own video and audio trailer which I enjoyed. This slideshow is of course another marketing tool. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Are you working on another novel <ul><li>Yes, I am working on my new Novel currently entitled ‘Ledgers’ </li></ul><ul><li>It is set in Victorian Aberdeen and is about a boy who’s mother is killed. </li></ul><ul><li>He maintains a ledger listing all those who have wronged him and the penalty he will exact on them </li></ul><ul><li>I have almost finished the plot and am enjoying the research. </li></ul>
  13. 13. What are your future plans for Darren and Kirsty? <ul><li>I do plan a second Darren and Kirsty novel when sales justify this. </li></ul><ul><li>It is called Majlis and set in the Middle East – more problems with smugglers, counterfeiters and Iran. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes…I did the cover first. I have done half the plot. </li></ul>
  14. 14. How can I buy the Novel? Amazon Kindle Paperback ePUB (Nook, iPAD, eReaders)
  15. 15. What are your Top 7 learnings for your next book <ul><li>Plot in more detail </li></ul><ul><li>Write a better first draft </li></ul><ul><li>Start marketing now </li></ul><ul><li>Get ARC readers started early and give them time </li></ul><ul><li>Work on getting reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Develop Blog and Facebook community </li></ul><ul><li>Write a better novel every time </li></ul>
  16. 16. THANKS FOR READING <ul><li>I hope you enjoy the book. </li></ul>