Welcome to my Blog
Stay up to date with the day to day happenings of Colin here
Four years on...
On Friday April 12th 2013 I became a self-employed author. I gave in my notice and stepped out into the world on my own. That was four years ago! I know, I can't believe the time has flown so fast either.
I can still remember how scary it was to finish in my job, and take the plunge into the world of a sole trader. I had always worked for someone else. Starting my day clocking in, and finishing my shift clocking out. Changing my routine, was so foreign to me. Now, I can get a week of schools, or two weeks of writing. Nothing is ever the same, at any given time.
But saying that, it was the best decision I've ever made. Becoming independent - calling the shots, is the most satisfying part of my world.
I went from working nine hour shifts in a mundane factory, to running school visits all over the UK. It wasn't a fairytale starting off either - things didn't go smoothly, but what new job ever does? I had to learn, adapt and evolve to make it work. I'm a lot better at it now, and its given me confidence and an even stronger passion for writing.
I can now find time to write, and still do the schools that I love so much.
I've worked with lots of people over the years, who said that they were fed with the job they were doing, and wanted to start a new career. But most of them will probably never do it.
The reason for this is because they've become so complacent, that the thought of change scares them... and I totally get that. I don't even blame them for staying where they are. It is scary giving everything up and starting from scratch. You've got to have a clear idea of what you want to do, and plenty of support to do it. I was lucky, my wife is very understanding, and was behind me one hundred percent of the way.
Don't get me wrong, it can still be a struggle, but the rewards are amazing. I've met so many lovely people along the way, and made new friends in the process.
So, onwards and upwards - here's to the next four years, and what they will bring.
I suppose I never really talk about the public speaking side of my job. Writing novels and short stories is one thing, but the other part is addressing audiences. As you know, if you follow me - I'm a full-time author. This entails visiting schools, leading assemblies, and classrooms with presentations, and workshops. I do that from week-to-week.
But, when asked at certain times, you've also got to stand up and talk at other events, such as; book fairs - book launches, or address groups of people at writing circles. But it goes on: The picture above is of me at PARACON 2016, talking to an audience in a theatre in Neath (I know, I look a little sad, but it is a paranormal event, its supposed to be dark).
What I'm saying is - you never know where you'll end up speaking. I've spoken at U3A (University of the Third Age) events - opened a school fete, and even been asked to do a prize giving night.
If you think that being an author is only about the writing, you'd be totally wrong.
And, to be honest, I didn't have a clue in the beginning on how to stand up, and talk in front of a large crowd of people. In fact, I had to learn, and very quickly. It takes a lot of guts to take charge on that lonely stage - look down at everyone staring back, and then command the audience. I can remember thirty years ago - I had to do a speech at a wedding. Thinking about it now, I cringe, because I totally bottled it... froze! So, I had to get over my fear.
When I finally realised that I was going to have to take on county halls, institutes, golf clubs, community centres and theatres... I had to evolve into a professional speaker. It took a lot of practice, and COMEDY! Yes, comedy is the biggest part. Humour is how to win over a crowd. When you're the one talking and everyone is listening, make them laugh. In the beginning I made things up as I went along. I'm still doing the same thing today, but I'm more refined now. You've got to know your subject matter too, add a little comedy to that, and that's all you need... well in my case.
The most exhausting time for me; is World Book Day. This has turned into World Book Day week. Then, you have to perform at many assemblies throughout the week. It becomes repetative, but every performance has to have the same intensity - don't forget, you're getting paid to stand there and deliver a funny, informative and exciting set. There may be audiences of twenty, or five hundred. It can be daunting, but once the nerves have settled, I enjoy it.
Never thought it would come to this
When I started out I never envisaged having a back catalogue of books in 2017. Well you don't do you really? I mean in 2005 I had Wizards' Kingdom, a small novella of 117 pages. I took this small, purple book to every event that would take on a novice author. I was self-published, and that was taboo at the time. Anyone who self-published wasn't good enough to be eventually published by 'Proper' publishers.
I was even told at one bookshop 'Over the Bridge', that a self-published book written by a welsh person wouldn't do well in England! Honestly, that actually did happen. So, I tried everything in my power to sell that little magical novella. I signed at newsagents, supermarket's, fete's, indie bookshops and through sheer hard work, it paid off.
Looking back now, everything that's happened - happened for a reason. It was a path I was meant to take. I met a lot of struggling authors along the way. Some continued on like me, and are still going today - others just gave up and disappeared. I though (through the strong belief and dedication of my wife) kept on pushing. One book became two - two became three and so on. As my books gained popularity, more places allowed me to do signings.
At one point nearly every Saturday in the calendar was filled with a book-signing somewhere in the UK. We spent thousands of pounds over ten years on fuel, meals and accomodation. I couldn't have done it without Jan. I owe everything to her, she's been so understanding.
I'm now looking at nine books and counting. Me, yeah, with nine books behind me. Also, running a book fair, and doing school visits, television interviews, radio interviews... just seems so crazy.
I feel so lucky to be where I am, and never-ever thought I'd be doing this full time. You've just got to be passionate about what you want to do.
The highlight to 2016 for me has to be my first grandchild, Amaya May Parsons.
She is the most wonderful addition to the family. I'm so proud of my son Kris, and his fiance Sam for producing such a lovely little person. Never a day goes by without thinking of her-her blue eyes and cheeky smile... toothy grin (above)... lol. I could go on for ages. I've even tried to write the text for a picture book with her in mind.
OK so... back to the rest of my year.
It's been a bumpy ride. My brother having a heart attack, though he's almost back to full health now, thank God. Both sons Kris and Ryan starting new jobs (one in maintinence and the other in an advertising company) they're both very happy, you couldn't ask for more really.
On the downside for me, not getting a book released, and on the upside, the Rhondda Book Fair 2016!
What a fantastic booky event. We (my wife Jan, and I) decided to run a book fair on our own. We did get help from friends and family of course, but primarily it was just us. I booked the venue and date - Jan sorted the refreshment side of things (no mean feat), while I sorted the authors and timetable for the day - author panel's, setting up the theatre etc.
The day itself, weather-wise was terrible with a capital "T" honestly. The rain poured down from the start to the finish, only getting worse as the day progressed. Then the mist rolled in, just to top it all off. But the event... The event was amazing. Lots of people turned up, despite the weather, and the author panel's were a great addition.
We had a live-feed to Facebook, so viewer's who couldn't attend, could watch and send in questions for the authors, and it went down a storm. Everyone enjoyed the tea, coffee, soft drinks and cake-cake-cake that my wife and her friends served to eager customers! Thanks to everyone who attended, and to all those who helped with the day. A special thank you to Debra Jones the manager of the SOAR Chapel Community Centre, for her contribution and patience.
The rest of the year was schools-schools-schools - visiting book fairs and other events. As I said, I didn't launch any books in 2016, although there was the anthology: Dark Gathering - Tales of Horror and Mystery, published by the Swansea Writers Circle, my short story Shady Close was featured. It came out on Halloween.
Looking back now to what I did do, authorwise. I have written a few short stories (need to find a home for them) and finished some other manuscripts.
Keep a look out in 2017 for a few book launches from Colin R Parsons, namely: DISC Direct Interface Shadow Control, by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie. Death Trap, by DramaScape. Ghosted by Tallyberry Publishing. I'm working on something called Wizards Exile (tell you more about that in 2017).
All in all, a bit of a mixed bag.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy 2017.
Some writing answers
Here are some questions I've been asked lately.
What inspires me to write?
Everything and anything I suppose. Reader's especially inspire me, because the feedback they give, make writing such a joy. If I know someone has been so inspired by what I've talked about, and really enjoyed my work... and if it makes them want to read and write more - that's inspiration enough.
What do I write about?
Whatever comes into my head at any given moment. I was in Nottingham a while ago and the city is full of trams. I knew, there and then that I wanted to write about a sinister tram journey.
My washing machine gave me the idea for Crank Tech One (on a full spin cycle it would vibrate out of its slot) and I thought what if it continued to run - even after the wire and pipe broke off - it would trash the kitchen, and wreck the living room - smash its way down the street, crashing into cars and lorries. So, I turned my washing machine into a robot (in my head of course).
At the moment I've two or three projects on the go. If something unusual happens during my day - I'll find a way to write a story about it. I may take an everyday thing, or something strange, and twist it into an exciting story.
How did I become a writer?
Quite by accident really. I've always written stories since a child. When I got older, an English Primary teacher who used to proof-read and edit my stories (because they have to be perfect to send to publishers) called my wife and I into school one day for a parent/teacher meeting.
My youngest son Ryan, was falling behind in his English - he was nine. She said he wasn't reading enough (you have to read plenty of books for your writing and english marks to improve). I said what can I do to help him read more? She said, write him a book, he loves wizards. So, Wizards' Kingdom was born. All I did was write ten short stories, and linked the character's and plot - turning the stories into chapters.
How long does it take me to write a book?
The time it takes to write a book depends on many things. All authors are different. It'll probably take me about six months to write a novel of about sixty-thousand words. It has taken some authors ten years to write one novel. Stephen King for instance can write three or four books in a year. I try to write a thousand words a day, but it doesn't always happen.
I hope these answers give you some idea about me as a writer?
I'm known as Colin R Parsons the children's author initially, but when I first started out as a writer - I used to write short stories. And mostly adult short stories at that. I've written many children's books over the years and loved it. But, when I was asked recently if I'd like to write a story for the Swansea and District Writers Circle; a twisted, scary story for adults - I jumped at the chance.
This anthology is coming out in time for Halloween. Dark Gathering - Tales of Horror and Mystery. There are lots of brilliant stories from many of my author friends. So grab yourself a copy.