There's the million dollar question that you won't want to ask of Des Birch. Let's find out why...
Have you ever returned from vacation and have somebody ask you how it was? Have you ever returned from work and have someone ask how your day has been? How many times have you given a one-word answer to these questions? Often when I am relaxing, my wife Julie notices my fixed stare which she attributes to my being in ‘Storyland’. If the TV is on I might be gazing at the screen but she knows I am not watching it. Then I might stand up and head for my computer, writing for a time before returning to Julie’s ‘welcome back’ smile. How has my day been? Exciting, torrid, frightening, loving, exhausting........, but never just OK.
I work in an engineering company with murderers, rapists, drug barons etc, for my colleagues are the real people on which I base many of my characters. I live in a world over which I have complete control. Perhaps my daily work is just a fantasy and Storyland is the reality. Julie of course is the wonderful dream.
Being the wrong side of fifty, I have experienced much of life’s up’s and down’s. I also see cycles taking place in which young people experience the same challenges as we did in the struggle for the rite of passage into adulthood. I began to wonder how other species handled this, when a Storyland trance came over me and I eventually emerged with the idea for my YA book Beyond Dark Waters in which a little boy enters five different species, learning lessons from each. It was such fun to write and each day I would complete a section and read it to Julie and Elliott (an elephant, but you will have to read Different Eyes if you want to meet him). I was lucky enough to win an award for this book and it is my crowning achievement to date. I had written 110 pages of the sequel when this torrid, violent story of drug barons, torture and revenge came hammering on the inside of my skull, ready written and demanding to be put down in words. I told it that it was in a queue and that anyway I had far too much on this year, but to no avail. I’m now 70 pages into it and it seems to have calmed down a little, allowing me to study for the final part of my BSc Hon. Stories can do that!
So who am I? I am a father and a grandfather. I have a basic science degree and I have also spent a couple of interesting years in Europe teaching English. I believe in living life to the full. I currently have three novels and one book of short stories in E-format and paperback. Am I rich? Ha ha ha! I’ll never be rich; I like living too much and I need to be around real people who have problems that money can’t solve. I feel I am very lucky indeed. I have a loving family, great friends, a life full of intrigue and the ability to share that life with the world. Come and join me on Amazon and on my Facebook site.
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Are you top notch or are you egotistical?
As a writer and as a reader?
Are you the absolute best at what you do and no one, anywhere, anytime, in any manner is qualified to give you advice of any type?
Are you open to hearing advice because any little tidbit can help you grow and improve?
This sprung into my mind because I've been seeing a trend lately. A bad trend. We've always had a few writers in our community that have the elitist mentality. They believe they are better than everyone else, period. And, although there's a ton of trash in our community, which hurts our community overall, the elitist mentality does NOT help our cause, either.
Some countries actually very much discourage this type of thinking, and we can all learn a bit from that. There's nothing wrong with being humble. Nothing at all. Who knows, you may actually make another friend or two if you're a bit more humble.
There's also nothing wrong with having pride in your work...but then there's pride and there's ego. Two different things. No matter what country you're in, from Australia to Japan to Russia to Europe to South America to Canada to the U.S.A., ego is the same everywhere. And ego is not a good thing.
I admit, this does not just affect indie writers. Some of the biggest branded big names have big egos as well. However, that affects them. That affects the major companies. Indie authors have enough going against them as it is. Why add an over-inflated ego to that equation?
So, are you top notch or are you egotistical?
And now, time to introduce Seumas...fully clothed:
IT”S AS MUCH FUN AS YOU CAN HAVE WITH YOUR CLOTHES ON
Now I’m on the tiger, I can’t get off..
… and I really don’t want to get off. You know these crazy bucket lists, somewhere between ‘saving Africa from Justin Beiber’ and ‘getting everybody in France to speak English'? I’ve had tons of them. As a kid I wanted to be a drummer, then a football player, Scottish style (very elegant ball dribbler). That was superseded by a yearn to make tons of money as a gambling bookie. Next up came the Stones and Eric Clapton and Freddy Mercury…all change again, front man in a great band it had to be. Then along came that thing that John Lennon spoke about, ‘life happening when you’re busy doing other things..’ Oh, yeah, life. That thing. Well that thing triggered off with the standard Glasgow practice issue of punching my father out when I was fifteen, and off I went with a duffle bag and an old acoustic guitar, into that big wonderful world out there.
Now, over forty years on, the history I look back on astounds me. That surely wasn’t me becoming a bank employee, then a bank officer, then, Oh God help us, the man in charge running banks all over the planet. Sounds too proper, too correct, too boring. Well it would’ve been except… except along came a twenty year war with booze that I didn’t win. I hammered it in Europe and Asia, got my licks into it in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, but bugger me, it never gave up…by the time we got to round fifteen in Singapore, it had me beat on a points
count. I declared a truce. Round about then I was sent (a slum lad no less) to Harvard to re-tread the brain box. To get their money back, my employers made me corporate Mr Fixit, jumping on planes to this, that and the other mess that needed the surgery applied. Why I am I telling you all this? Because that’s where the boredom stopped and all the great experiences started to pile in. Hong Kong has its own magic for any foreigner. Asia gave a range of cultures…Bangkok, Seoul, Japan, China, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei,…and the characters that zone in and out of these places are just that…characters that you’d normally only see in books and the movies. I loved all of it.
I’ve been in Abu Dhabi since 2004 but the workout before that was a stricken ferry company in Manila in the Philippines. The first thing I did was fire 600 trade union dockside workers. That got me to the top of the Christmas Card list, and a present of an armoured car with half a dozen armed body guards. These lads were SAS-trained, and so were born the guts of the characters in my debut novel THE VIOLIN MAN”S LEGACY. There’s things which work within the law, but the stuff that goes on under the radar is always more fascinating.
So, back to the ride on the tiger…the writing. The book was finished three years ago and was promptly despatched to forty agents. Just as swiftly it attracted forty rejection slips. So, what to do? Give up there? No bloody way. This was my baby. There was too much of me in it not to let it see the light of day properly. I got it appraised professionally, then re-edited a couple of times. Now what? The 'now what?' was amazing. In the middle of last year, someone suggested Kindle. Now, understand this. As a 24 carat computer Jurassic, I’d never heard of
Kindle. It was explained to me single syllable words. On to Kindle it went. In the first three weeks it got 80 downloads and I thought “Karamba, I’m a published author!” I then started asking email pals, to get email pals, to pass it on. Within the next three months it exceeded 7,000 downloads, and at the last count it’s now tracking well over 16,000 paid hits. The writing‘s the easy part, getting the mother out there is the real work. As a businessman, the decision for me is easy. It calls for a proper campaign of blogs, review sites, Twitter, visibility, visibility, visibility, and oh, by the way, write a decent piece of work.
The second novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK, is well in progress with three other story concepts to follow, all in the same series, all about the ex-SAS guys taking on a host of various criminals, using their black operations skills. It’s a helluva blast, and I don’t see it being any less fun for the foreseeable future.
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