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Available Now - The Leviathan Chronicle: Genesis

It's here at last. Currently available on Amazon through its Kindle and CreateSpate platforms, The Leviathan Chronicle: Genesis is a ...

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Writer's Room with a View

Environment is crucial for a writer. Have an environments you're comfortable with, or you'll never be able to concentrate fully on your work. Either that, or something will impact your work on an invisible level, affecting its quality. It can be something as simple as keeping your environment at a sensible temperature, or finding something in which you can lose yourself.

For myself, I've got a view out across a long garden, with pines growing at regular intervals, and a clump of birches to the far right. Willows border either side of our yard, and the closest have hop intertwined in their branches. In the distance, now partially obscured by clouds, the highest mountains in England and Wales stare back at me. They're much more visible in winter, when there's less foliage blocking the way.

When I'm stuck, I find it useful to just look up and stare out at the world. It also helps if my head isn't in the best state for creating fictional happenings. Doesn't beat an actual walk in these glorious surroundings, another vital factor in maintaining your mental and physical health, but it does help for a brief respite before diving back into a complicated exchange of dialogue, or an action scene, or a piece of scene painting.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

"Big things have small beginnings"

Sales are one of the major goals of being an author. You want to make money, you want people to see your work, you want to be recognised and successful. Not necessarily in that order, but generally that's the gist of what you want from a successful writing career. Ideally, you'll also be allowed to pursue your own projects in peace, but that's a luxury not always given, as many can attest to. It's part of the struggles of being a writer, particularly one trying to start out in the industry.

I've recently, finally, received the royalties for the sales of my sci-fi novels Crystal and Sin: yeah, it does take around two months for Amazon to get its act together and actually send me the royalties. They're not much by any stretch of the imagination, but they're a start. As was said in Lawrence of Arabia and later quoted in Promotheus, "big things have small beginnings".

Don't turn your nose up at even the slimmest of pickings from your writing. No, you're not making so many hundred thousand a year, you're not the owner of a country cottage far away from the city smells... But your work is being bought, and you're earning something from it. Whether it's a sideline, your chosen full-time profession, or some quirky one-off that takes off, don't be discouraged because you've sold... perhaps... only ten or twenty copies. It's a start!

It's an uphill battle, and even the slimmest piece of ground covered is worth celebrating. Don't go blowing what you've earned or anything silly like that, but remember that those few people decided to buy your book, and are reading it even now. Your book is being read, and it's just the start...

Oh, if you want some advice on creating submissions for agents, read this post from the website Writers&Artists. It contains good advice for both pacing your book in its early stages, and has some well-phrased versions of general advice for creating your submission. Also see the blog "Publishing... And Other Forms of Insanity": it's an invaluable resource for all fledgling writers.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Submission, Submission, Submission

When creating a submission, it's always tempting to see it as the gateway to a vast new career. This is the one, this will push me out into the mainstream, this is my first step towards success. No matter how many stories you hear about other authors who had to work and push to get their writing recognised, trying upwards of dozens of agents and publishers before finally getting that big break, you think that you'll be different.

That was what dragged me down for a long time, and kept me from doing my job properly as a writer starting from the ground up. I was treating the entire business in a stupidly blasé way, expecting success to be thrown at me because my work was so good. Oh how wrong I was. I'm at upwards of thirty different agents tried or retried, and I'm still pushing forward. Trying both conventional and self-driven publishing forms, I've learned that hard way not to treat anything as a sure thing.

Now there are hundreds of opinions on this matter, and I'm only adding to the pile with my own experience on how to do it and how to preserve my spirit while doing it. You have to distance yourself from it, examine your work and ensure that it could be a suitable debut for you. You must check and recheck your covering letter/email. You must triple-check your submission to ensure that the chapters selected both have good pacing and no spelling or grammar errors beyond what might be expected of a first-time author. Also, submissions are very draining even when you're going about it in a business-like manner, as you're submitting your own work to criticism and scrutiny by a complete stranger.

If the stars align correctly, then you can find yourself throwing out a quality submission with little effort and relative ease. But these are exceptions. In general, you have to go through a laborious process of picking agents, preparing your submission(s), and waiting several weeks to months for a response. And at the end, you'll most likely see a polite rejection. But don't let that stop you! Never, ever give up! That's what I've learnt, and it's what I'm sticking to. As an author, I'm hardened to the pains and troubles of submitting through official channels. As a writer, I will not be beaten!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Out now: Crystal and Sin: Volume 3

I'm proud to announce that the third and final volume of my new science fiction work, Crystal and Sin, is now available through Kindle, CreateSpace, NookPress and Kobo Writing Life. A Complete Edition is planned for release this winter, which will include the entire story.

From Kobo Writing Life -

From Amazon Kindle (UK) -

From Amazon Kindle (US) -

From CreateSpace -

The previous two volumes are still available, and have been updated with corrected text and additional copyediting. Please enjoy this now-complete science fiction saga...

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

FB3X Drabble Cascade #168 entry - "Stable Visitor"

Just a little something for someone:

With the door stood agape, she couldn't help but glance inside. Like a terrible shadow it rested beneath the hole it had punched through the roof. Its tattered and smouldering wings lying across the tortured back. The clawed feet reaching out in writhing agony. The hands scrabbling at the straw. The head slowly moving from side to side at the whinnying of terrified horses. She feared approaching, and yet feared running away more. She reached out, the horned head rose, and in a guttural gush of words it spoke.
“Please... Will you not help... a fallen one?”

Woes and Elations of a Writer

Have you ever tried being every single member of a business? Creative force, CEO, accountant, editor, publicity manager? I know that a lot of people have, and if you're out there, then you'll sympathize with my experience over the past three or four months.

As I reach the end of a push to bring my book Crystal and Sin out and available, along with promoting it and polishing it so it's worth buying and people notice it, I look back and feel both relief and sadness. The elation of going through getting my work out there, and seeing the first sales appear is a feeling I'll never forget. It's small at the moment, but it's still significant. It's like watching a doorway opening in your life. There's also the feedback you get from people, and I've been consistently pleased by their definition of it as a "page turner". No matter how weird a reader finds something, if it's a page-turner, then that's a good sign. It means the story you've constructed is drawing them in and hooking them, as any good story should.

But on the debit side, there's the sheer frustration I've had to battle to make sure these things don't just implode on themselves. Take the Nook Press editor. At first, it seemed a suitable way for me to adjust my text so other formats would accept it. Then I discovered that it's a poorly constructed editing machine that forced me to shift pieces of text around that had gotten misplaced due to spacing issues, adjust fonts when they refused to cooperate, and insist on the correct positioning of story segments (chapters). Then there's the flurry of effort going into the initial release and publicity, which can seriously drain you. You need to edit the manuscript, turn it into different formats for different publishing sites, go out and spread the word using social media and your contacts. By the end of the day, you're nearly shaking. The first time I did this for Crystal and Sin Vol. 1, I couldn't write for nearly two weeks!

I'm planning a holiday when July 7 has been and gone, and I'll have no need to bring out anything until the planned Complete Edition in December. Then what? I don't know. Maybe I'll find an agent between then and now, maybe I'll suddenly catch on and be a hot commodity, maybe the sun will freeze in the sky. I don't know. But I do know that I'll keep trying. I love writing and story-telling, and I'm determined to succeed. I've got the skills and the support, now all I need is the sales...