Tag Archives: ebook

Book, book, book…..

It's the book what I wrote...So, only….er….five months after the initial idea, and I now have a published e-book to add to my credits. Actually, that’s not strictly true, as this is a document in pdf format, rather than an actual e-book, but you get the point.

Back in January, as I may have mentioned, I went along to a Writer’s symposium, hosted by the Travel Writer’s Association of Canada (TWAC. I was there as part of PWAC. Acronyms are silly things.) One of the speakers talked about the need to build up your webpresence and your own brand for your writing, which lead me to rediscover this blog, for one thing, and to begin writing the book. She’d said that everyone is an expert in something, expert enough to write a book. And while your book might not be compelling enough to attract a major publisher in the paper and ink industry, the glory of the internet is that you can publish without the stunning overheads and publicise your product yourself.

I realised that for over a decade I have been writing plays for the amateur stage – what the North Americans seem to call “Community Theatre” which sounds less patronising – and therefore I could legitimately say something about doing that. Plus, of course, I’ve spent the last few years as a script reader for Lazy Bee Scripts, reviewing new plays and handing out advice and judgements and assembling my own set of “What everybody gets wrong, or right” rules.

The speaker at the symposium made a lot of sense, saying that the book itself is not the major feature, but you can build on the sale of the book with lectures and classes. I didn’t want to get too overexcited about that, and decided to see if I could write a convincing book first. It’s taken longer than I thought, thanks mainly to the hard work of my friends and co-writers, ensuring I didn’t settle for the first draft, going that extra mile to produce a document that’s not only worth reading but enjoyable to look at. I’m painfully aware of the number of projects that languish at the “half-completed” stage, not because I’ve run out of enthusiasm for them, but because I’m scared I’ll wreck what I’ve got by pushing on. Two plays are stuck in that limbo right now. I was determined that the book would not go the same way, and this week the final draft (number three, I think…certainly the third version to make it to the pdf stage, anyway) has arrived and been hosted, both on the Lazy Bee Website (www.lazybeescripts.co.uk ) and on the TLC website (www.tlc-creative.co.uk) . We’re advertising the book on various websites, pushing out news of it through Facebook, and later this week I’ll be attending another PWAC event where I’ll finally get to tell the other members that I have acheived something they can actually see.

So, what’s the book about? It’s NOT a “How To” guide. I don’t lay out the best way to write your epic play, there aren’t any simple five-step programmes included that take you from your idea through to staging your masterwork. The book talks about the aspects of community theatre that make it ideal for first-time playwrights, the things that you should be aware of before you begin writing. It discusses the limitations of the local stages, and how you can get around them or work with them. It talks about the different types of writing you can do for the stage, it highlights common mistakes and other issues to avoid. Best of all, it has funny pictures with hilarious captions scattered throughout.

I’ve read it about half a dozen times now, and each time I feel it’s necessary to point out that I only supplied some of the words. The organisation, proofreading, graphical work, factchecking (and occasional buttkicking) have been done by my writing partners Steve and David at TLC and by Stuart at Lazy Bee. I hope other writers will find it useful. I really hope some people who might not have considered play writing will give it a go as a result, because I hadn’t thought of plays until I was asked to write one, and they really have changed my life for the better.

And if anyone’s interested, I am available for lecture tours…..

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Still juggling after all these years

Juggling responsibilities....

Keep it all in the air, and don't worry about what happens when you stop...

So I’m still fighting the battle of three fronts, but it feels like the domestic reno fight is being won. We have a beautiful guest bedroom now, with a luxurious carpet, bed, wardrobe and new armchair. Yesterday I took my life in my hands and wired in the new light fitting. I don’t do electrical or plumbing normally. Plumbing has the nasty habit of flooding the house in the time it takes to get the plumber to answer the emergency hotline, and electricity gets you dead before you have time to think “Did I switch off the BZZZZT!” However this was a special case – if we kept the old fitting, people would bang their heads on the shade as they crossed the room, and I wasn’t going to call the electrician out AGAIN…They’ve done brilliantly with the various assigned tasks, but we’ve paid generously for the privilege and the reno fund is dribbling away fast enough already. Anyway, despite spending twenty minutes stood on a chair with my arms above my head, I managed to complete the job and reset the breaker. Then I flipped the light switch and nothing happened. I had time to mutter the rudest word I know, then the light came on. Of course, energy saving bulbs! Ha ha!

The next challenge is going to be the roofing and guttering. A nice man from the local company came out to check over the roof and admitted that it could last another couple of years, but he wouldn’t swear to it. Sadly, the fascias and soffits (my favourite word of the week! Say it three times to yourself and try not to smile…) are almost all rotting and need replacing. Some of these we could *gulp* try to sort ourselves. So, today’s question to consider – should we purchase two very long ladders and twenty metres of soffits and fascias, write off a couple of free days and spend them cursing and swearing because the one sodding screwdriver I need is back on the ground AGAIN and I’m at the top of the ladder holding fifteen screws and a length of soffit….Or should we pay most of the remaining reno fund to the nice man and his company, get the roof and soffits done professionally and admit that the deck was just a lovely dream? Answers on the back of a twenty dollar bill please….

On the work front, I have three whole weekdays off. One I squandered yesterday in catching up on reviewing and buying the new armchair, but since the sun was shining I also walked Moose and got a haircut (I only get haircuts in the sunshine. It’s like not buying a car in the rain.) Today (Day Two) I’m returning stuff to Ikea, doing more reviewing and maybe some writing. I have a screenplay I have resurrected in order to enter it for the wonderful Red Planet Prize (http://www.redplanetpictures.co.uk/prize.php ), since it was co-founded by the brilliant Danny Stack ( http://dannystack.blogspot.com/ ) who I met during our time in Bournemouth. As a Canadian, I’m outside the entry requirements, but once I’ve got the first draft into shape, it’ll go through TLC Creative, who are officially based in the UK and we’ll enter it when we all like it. This is a pet project that I’ve already had rejected by the BBC – it was a proposal for an hour-long comedy drama, then it became a stage musical, now it’s back to the standalone tv piece again. It’s one of the few things I’ve written that has a complete outline for me to work from, but it keeps wriggling and changing while I’m typing, so it may emerge from the process as something different to the piece I originally imagined. As long as it makes me laugh, I’ll be happy. Although a big fat paycheck would be welcome too, obviously.

Speaking of which, the e-book is creeping closer to production. This week I received a full draft version – if we were printing it on paper, this would have been the Galley copy. There are very few typos, and only a few points that need changing. Since it’s coming out as a pdf file, we can include fun stuff like hyperlinks to the plays online so people can read about the play, then follow the link to read the play itself. And since it’s a pdf, you don’t need a dedicated e-book reader to read it. David and Steve have done a brilliant job, adding a series of great comedy pictures and captions to the text, breaking it up and rasing the laugh level considerably. Now we have to sort out the various ways we’re going to sell it : through Lazy bee Scripts (www.lazybeescripts.co.uk ) obviously, but we may host some of the sales direct from the TLC site too (www.tlc-creative.co.uk ).

In more local news, I heard that there was a sale of one of my short plays to a group in Burnaby, just down the road from where I live. I got in touch with them and hope to receive tickets for the show fairly soon. They’re called “Third degree Theatre” (http://bradtones.webs.com/shows.htm ) and their current show is a really good one. I’m jealous! With luck, I should be able to join the group and get them to work with me on some of my more recalcitrant plays, like the wretched Holocaust piece that won’t BEHAVE ITSELF AND STICK TO THE PAGE!

Mrs Dim was suggesting that I revisit the idea of being a playwriting guru, running classes at the local Adult Ed centre, something I’ve always shied away from. I’ve written a lot of plays, most of which have sold and been performed, but do I really have anything to teach? Well, the e-book was part of that experiment. I wrote a book about playwriting, so I must know something about it. Maybe the next stage is setting up a teaching programme.