Sunday, September 20, 2020

Finding inspiration - A hero's quest


There are so many posts around the social media world asking creatives about their source of inspiration. The answers are always different, and the reason is that we all are different human beings with different thinking processes, thus different triggers for our creativity.

As I can't speak for anyone but myself, I will tell you what I've discovered about my inspiration process. Sometimes I think I just sit down and listen to the voices, and most of the time, this doesn't go so far from the truth. However, recently I went a bit deeper into my creative process, trying to understand it better, so to be able to answer that question more precisely. After a long brainstorming, I figured out the following common points:

1. Frustration. Many of my novels were indeed born during periods I found extremely challenging. Whether they were triggered by a conflictual relationship with the rest of the world or myself. Whether I dealt with a particular unfavorable condition or the feeling of fighting against the windmills sparked the creative flame. This year, the situation with the COVID-19 played only a marginal role, to be honest. My life isn't generally made of social gatherings. Therefore, going to restaurants, theaters, pubs wasn't on my list anyway. The only difference it brought to my life was that I can't travel the way I desire. This also means not being able to reach my family for my usual ten-days solo holiday. Perhaps, that was the thing that blocked my mojo. Being away from my everyday life to spend some time with myself and my family is a therapeutic period.

2. Long evening chats with my spouse. Although they might get heated, they can spark great ideas for the next novel to be written.

3. Being a mainly a thriller author means that the next source of inspiration in the list is reading crimes on the news or checking unsolved mysteries in history. The search for psychological profiles of serial killers is a fascinating, informative, and inspiring process.

4. Traveling is another vital source of inspiration. Meeting different cultures, religions, and heritages can offer a wide range of character developments.

Of course, there might be other sources that can inspire me. This is the case of the 'Ghosts of Morgan Street,' where the inspiration came from a casual chat with a homeless gentleman. For 'The Man from the Mist,' I wanted to give voice to those invisible people who live their lives in complete anonymity like I was forced during my youth. The paranormal novel, 'Thou Shalt Never Tell,' comes from the experiences in my family with ghosts and paranormal activities.

Obviously, there isn't an easy and straightforward inspiration source, at least for me, and what grabs my attention is going, sooner or later, to be transformed into a story.

Will that be worth the effort? Is it enough? Those are the questions to which only my readers can answer. As for me, they had been useful to find out more about my own self, and that's already a gain.


If you want to know more about my books, check out my website: https://pjmannauthor.com/category/books/


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Thou shalt never... compare yourself with other authors (a note to self)



Although this post is mostly a note to self, I'm pretty sure also other authors have found themselves in need of such a reminder.

In my case, I mostly tend to appreciate my success only in function of what other, more successful authors can achieve. In this way, I'm losing touch with some critical reality factors.

The first is despite writing in the same category, using the same marketing approach can work for one author, leaving the other completely resultless.

The second is that we're all much different from each other, and there might be other millions of secondary factors contributing to the success of their books that go beyond the marketing strategy. Most of the time, success comes from the combination of many other actions. 

The third is that although my books can be written in the same genre, they can be completely different (and believe me, they literally are) from the mainstream standard, which characterizes that genre.

The fourth, and that's the most crucial point of all, is that I have my unique voice, I have my own style, and the only author I can compare myself with is myself.

Mainly I need to compare my today success with the success I had yesterday. 

Did I learn something from my trials?

Have I improved anything from what I achieved in the past?

Have I spent some time analyzing what made the success of one book then respect others?

Can I extract the formula and replicate it for the future?

I know it might be disheartening and frustrating sometimes to look at those who are more successful and then returning to your still acerbic results.

Nevertheless, if there's something to do is to be inspired by their development and get from them, the motivation to get things done.

One more time, there isn't any competition going on between authors. There isn't a single spot to be filled so if one of us can be successful, so can be other thousands.

As I said in the beginning, this is mostly a note to self, as it sometimes happens to feel discouraged, yet, nothing is lost, and I have everything to learn and, thus, achieve.

If you, too, are an author (or other creative figure struggling to get your art noticed), look back at the path you've walked so far. You might be surprised at how successful you've become from the day you started your journey.


Take care and compare only to yourself!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Finding the time


 I have been spending the last two weeks trying desperately to find the time and to organize all my duties. Needless to say that I wasn't entirely successful as I wished to be.

The problems with my failed achievement are the increasing of the task I'm putting myself through and the time I can realistically dedicate to each of the duties. Many times, I am also possessed by the procrastination demon, or by the overthinking demon.

Those two can get me completely off track.

I'm not yet in the position to leave my day job to pursue my writing career full time. This means that for eight hours a day, I need to be focused on my working duty, forgetting plots, ads, ideas, social media, website management, courses, challenges, writing new books, and God-only-knows what else.

Of course, from the day, we need to take away not just the times when I am at work, but also the time for sleep, eat, take care of the house, and, well, why not? Also, having a full deserved rest enjoying the company of my family.

In a perfect world, I would return from home, sit at my desk, and write at least 1000 words on my new novel. This would be achieved dedicating to the activity one and a half hours.

The next would be creating another five to ten ads on amazon, adding one or two ads to each of my books. 

The following step would be to update my website and social media, answering questions, replying to posts, or ask questions about any kind of doubt I might have. 

This also should take a couple of hours. At this point, it would be the time for dinner, and my day could be considered over, dedicating the rest of the evening to family life.

So where's all my fuss?

Well, we don't live in a perfect world, do we?

As I come back home, I certainly sit down, and my best try is to create a list of things I need to do before dinner. From there, the thoughts in my mind become random. Meanwhile, I have a list of things to do; I recall that I need to update the blurb of my novels. Then I also need to find a better hook and glancing at the sales report, which generally gives me nothing but depression, I think about the best solution.

The result is that generally, I can write the 1000 words for my next novel, I can ask questions and hardly update any social media, and in the best cases, I can do one or two new ads.

Saturday and Sunday, there are so many of the chores I've set aside that I can hardly write my blog anymore. You might have noticed that I started to write every two weeks instead of my usual one-week blog.

It's not lacking ideas, and I'm not even sure whether it's a lack of time. The problem is that I'm dealing with a massive lack of discipline and organizational skills.

I have no idea where I'll be heading or if I ever will be able to find the right pace and organization to allow me to take care of everything. That is, at least, my goal.

I will go back, trying to find a way to efficiently organize the time and get out of this mental chaos.

Meantime I wish you all a great end of this week and a happy labor day if you're living in the US.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

The thin line between emulation and plagiarism


I have to admit having thinking about this topic for the whole last week and wondered how often this thin line has been crossed, even if involuntarily.

Everything happened when I decided to rebrand my trilogy series completely, starting with new covers, and update the content. Like many indie authors do, I asked for feedback about the new covers in several authors groups.

Someone asked me the genre, and whether there was a particular author's series my trilogy could be connected with, something that had a similar story or theme. This is a question I've always dreaded because I have absolutely no idea. I do write thrillers, but the point of view is quite rarely one of a particular agent who saves the day in the end. To be honest, in some of my novels, nobody can save the day entirely, and the characters, like in real life, have to find a way to stand up on their feet and try to cope with the unexpected situation. There's always a bittersweet component in my ending. That is the kind of outcome that gives the reader the final bit to chew on.

At that point, he replied: "when authors come to me asking for suggestions, I always tell them to find the best selling authors and emulate the hell out of them."

That answer unleashed my considerations, and a question started to twirl on my mind, if I emulate the hell out of a particular author, what will happen to my unique and personal voice? Where is my creativity going? Is there any meaning in being creative?

The answer, at least from my point of view, is 'no.'

I am not going to take another author's idea and use it as a mold, where to confine my creativity just because it's something that people are used to. I believe that readers can get passionate about many different takes on a single genre if the author can draw them into the story, and that has nothing to do with a particular format. Creativity should never have boundaries, and experimenting something new, will give readers the chance to have something original and genuine coming from the soul of an author, instead of that coming from copying a particular format because it sells for sure.

To be honest, there have been a couple of "sales gurus," suggesting me to do precisely what the others do without listening to my creative voice. They all went to the ignoring trashbin. I am not going to listen to any suggestion on how to sell more if this means giving up my own personality and creativity.

Following this optic, I'm asking you, can we consider this sort of wild emulation as a hidden form of plagiarism?

With this weekly thought, I leave you to draw your own conclusion, and if you want to read something genuinely coming straight from the heart of an author, you might want to check out my novels here:

US marketplace: www.amazon.com/author/pjmann

UK marketplace: www.amazon.co.uk/author/pjmann

Canada marketplace: www.amazon.ca/author/pjmann

Australia marketplace: www.amazon.com.au/author/pjmann

India marketplace: www.amazon.in/author/pjmann

You can also check out my website for something more here:

https://www.pjmannauthor.com


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Lee Child meets James M. Cain: The Man from the Mist

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my new release, promising something about it. 

Well, Sunday 26th of July at 01:25 in the morning, after a whole day spent re-reading, rechecking, perfecting the novel, I was able to click the 'PUBLISH' button on Amazon. 

As first, it was released as a Kindle, knowing that it would have taken more time to release the paperback. To be honest, both the versions were published in the exact same moment. Still, if you are familiar with the times required by Amazon to check and make a paperback available for order, you know this can really be a time-consuming process.

Despite it all, the Kindle version was approved and live within a few hours, and the first thing I did was to send the link to my ARC readers' group, who, in the meanwhile, had the time to read it. 

Like it happens in many cases, you send a certain amount of free copies, but it's not really said that you will get the same amount of reviews in Amazon or Goodreads. This is because most of the people find out only at the end that they haven't spent the 50 USD requirement to be allowed to review anything on the site.


So, now here we have a new tale to show to the world:


However, one particular review brought tears in my eyes, and I decided to share it with you:

"I was intrigued by the cover and the title. I've always loved foggy days, particularly mornings; and the story held me captivated. Dave Stanford, editor at a local newspaper, is one of life's "invisible" people. They go about their daily lives, leaving behind barely a trace. We may see some of them, but we pay no attention to them - never ask him or her their name, spend sometimes years around them, and then are shocked when they finally get our attention.

Dave is drawn out of his anonymity, seemingly by chance when someone actually acknowledged him as a person. Soon, he is forced, quite unwillingly to deal with others - his neighbors, his co-workers, and even the police.

I don't do spoilers, so I strongly recommend you get your copy of The Man From the Mist. P. J. Mann has woven an essence of noir, reflecting the styles of authors such as Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep, James M. Cain - The Postman Always Rings Twice, and one of my favorites, Led Child's first Jack Reacher novel - Killing Floor.

I have a collection of novels I've read more than once. The Man From the Mist is joining The Stand, The Lord of the Rings, Interview with a Vampire: there are about 20 of the hundreds of books I have read.

This will not be the last of Mann's novels for me, you may very well agree after you have navigated the twists and turns in search of the mysterious man from the mist."

This novel came to my mind, inspired by a foggy day. It's quite rare for Finland to have days of thick fog, but that day was an exception under many aspects.

Walking the streets, I stopped for a moment to look at the people walking by and how difficult it was to even recognize one from the other. Strangely enough, I considered that it would have been relatively easy for a serial killer to hide on a foggy day. So the story began...

If you want to know more, here is the link to Amazon:

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON CANADA

AMAZON AUSTRALIA

AMAZON INDIA

I really hope you will give a chance to this novel and I hope you will enjoy it, like many of those who read it did.

One more thing, if you go and choose to get the book, I would really be grateful if you would leave a review If you can't maybe you can recommend it.

Keep yourself safe!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

It's all running into a circle

When you think about a city, the last thing that comes to your mind is to wonder about its planimetry. This, unless you stumble into something utterly bizarre.
Now think about having built something you are entirely proud of.
Think you want the whole world to admire it.
What would be the best way to do so?
Easy answered you make sure that every road leads there. The best way to make sure this is so is to build the whole city to circle your creation.
This; Ladies and Gentlemen, is Hamina:

A city that has been built around its Town Hall. The reason for this circular/ octagonal plan isn't clear. Personally, I love to think that when they finished the Town Hall, besides being considered the center of the social/political life, it was also considered something g to be proud of. In this optic, they built the rest of the city in a way that every single road would have led to it.
Located South-East Finland, this lovely town is sure to attract your attention and to make sure you will fall in love with its unique planimetry. But this is just one small reason to fall in love with it. The quiet, the beauty and the serenity feeling you get as soon as you exit your car, and start walking the streets, is something that makes you run to the first real estate agency to check for any availability in the city.





If it weren't for the fact that my job is in Helsinki, I would have considered remaining there and get one of those lovely wooden houses for myself.
The restrictions caused by this pandemic start to bring some good sides, and I wouldn't have otherwise discovered those jewels around me.

Keep yourself safe and healthy!


Monday, July 27, 2020

It's time to hit the road, so to say

For me, there aren't summer holidays without a journey planned somewhere. Idling at home is not my ideal way to spend time and that's probably the reason why I'm not even eager to take my holidays from work. Nevertheless, this year, being forced to remain in my country I needed to compensate for this lack of opportunity and try to make something out of the summer holidays. Exploring my country is something we have been planning, even though so far it would be only for a one-day-trips. 
One place I always wanted to see was the city (or town if you want to be more precise) of Hämenlinna in south Finland. The city is not really far from Helsinki, but for some reason, I always found it easier to fly to a farther destination, rather than taking the car and drive for a hundred kilometers to reach a closer location. 
Nevertheless, this is what we did this time, as our first journey to discover the beauties of our country. As I said driving one kilometer north from Helsinki, you will easily reach Hämeenlinna a city with 68000 inhabitants in the historical province of Tavastia.
This is the oldest city located in the inland of Finland and it's famous for being the birthplace of the composer Jean Sibelius and the medieval castle.
The first human settlement in the area was recorded during the Viking Age (793-1066 AD) and the castle was built in the 13th century to secure the Swedish power in central Finland. A village was built around the castle to provide services and goods, but only in 1639 was granted the status of "city" and in 1862 the first railway was opened to connect Hämeenlinna with Helsinki.
The city isn't at all anything big, and people who travel to visit it, generally do so for the medieval castle, the military museum, and the Jean Sibelius museum. 
Like every castle in the past, its construction date is uncertain, as it was built in stages. Most certainly it was completed by the end of the 13th century. 
One important goal of the Swedish expedition had been to link the province of Häme more tightly to the Swedish kingdom. 
This aim, which was influenced by foreign policy considerations, required the maintenance of a strong military fortress. Of equal importance, however, was the desire to tax this relatively wealthy region, and thus to set certain demands concerning the exterior forms of rule.


The oldest part of the castle is known as the fortified camp. This included a square-shaped greystone wall, with defensive towers at the northern, eastern, and southern corners. 


The view from the top floor of the castle is charming as it is the whole building itself.

This has been one strange month, where I could dedicate just a little amount of time to blog and being on any social platforms. This because I've been busy with the new release of my novel, about which I'm going to talk about very soon!
I hope you enjoyed this journey in my country and will see you soon for new adventures and news about the life of a Wandering Writer.

Take care!

Finding inspiration - A hero's quest

There are so many posts around the social media world asking creatives about their source of inspiration. The answers are always different, ...