Posts Tagged self-publishing

Blood Calling

Ah, it’s taken a while to get it finalised, but finally done.

I’ve literally been backwards and forwards, again and again, trying to tighten up those niggling little inconsistencies, plot holes, errors, and whatnot. I’m pretty sure they’re done, so I’ve clicked the PUBLISH button for the first time in just over two years.

Yeesh.

Two years. Technically, two years, three months, and ten days. Amazing that it’s been that long. Hopefully the next one will be out much more readily. I’m already into it, and I’m not setting myself massively high word counts. I have the story roughly set.

So, yes. Anyway. The self-publication of Blood Calling, the first Hob & Harte book, is now live on Amazon. The first story in an ongoing saga for my new pair of miscreants. A horror that follows a demon summoning gone wrong. Death and suffering, business as usual for Hob and Harte, a soul-bound pair trying to save the day.

Try it. You might like it.

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

Links will go up shortly.

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What else have I been up to?

A lot of my time recently has been eaten up with lending support to a new author. It’s been interesting to sit on the other side for a change, and work with her to polish her book up.

When she asked for beta readers, I volunteered, wanting to give constructive criticism and feedback. Her initial draft was good, but not great. The story had a lot of potential, but needed work. So, I did what I could to help and advise.

As a first time author, she’d fallen into a lot of the usual traps:

Telling more than showing

Dialogue that sounds painful when read out loud

Mixing perspectives

Leaving too much unexplained (the author knows it, and forgets that the reader doesn’t)

Too much repetition

Rushing over, or dragging out the “wrong” bits

The inevitable spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.

Nothing worse than a lot of other books I’ve read, and better than many that have been rushed into publication too early. I can’t stress how important it is to get that feedback, and listen to it.

 

I went through the book with a fine tooth-comb. Or, at least half of it. By the time I reached the half-way point, I realised that it was a perfect place to stop the story for a first book, and to split the story up a bit. She’d written several hundred pages worth, that needed polishing, editing, etc, and would be asking readers to invest a lot of money and time in a first-time author. Splitting it felt right (and it’s a great place to stop, and set up the second volume). Then there corrections, and comments. Lots of comments. For consistencies, clarifications, etc.

Writing and rewriting and rewriting again tends to give a different picture to the author as it does to the reader. As the author, you know all the blanks. You know the world you’re creating. You know everything. The reader doesn’t. So, that fresh perspective gave a lot of questions and queries, all of which were taken on board, and in the best possible way, led to some creative brainstorming leading to bigger world building. She’d already set a great world, with a solid story, but was able to develop that further.

Each draft was met with more (but less) of the same, until the final version was ready to go.

It’s available now, in fact.

A fantasy adventure, by Sian Montgomery:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Orc-Queen-Sian-Montgomery-ebook/dp/B074N872FK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1503061393&sr=1-1&keywords=sian+montgomery

https://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Orc-Queen-Sian-Montgomery-ebook/dp/B074N872FK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503061437&sr=8-1&keywords=sian+montgomery+kindle

 

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Titles

I hate trying to find a title for my book. Or short story. I absolutely suck at them.

I always thought that a good title should catch the attention, give a little hint as to the story (or at least the theme), and be fairly unique.

 

Trying to get something unique is a major challenge. My partner is Chinese, and she’s excited about a new film which has just been released in the UK. It’s called Once Upon A Time. Try googling that, and see how many different versions you get, just from films alone. Same with a lot of book titles. On those rare occasions when I do think I’ve got something that might just work, the first thing I do is pull up the Amazon search bar, and type it in, see how many hits I get. If there’s less than three, I’ll consider it. If it’s none at all, I’m definitely keeping it as a contender. Anything more, and it’s going to get lost in the crowd, or pull in someone who got it confused with a title they actually wanted.

 

When I published Clown, I was dead set on the title. I knew it was a loser, but I wanted it nonetheless. In The Mourning was a title before I had a story, and I really wanted to use it, because deep down, I love puns. Compiling HB Peculiar’s First Cause, the title was relatively easy as someone else came up with it as the name of their short story. It was (intended as) the first HB Peculiar collection, and the story was going to be the first. Easy.

For my next book, I’ve gone with Blood Calling. It’s a horror piece, so blood always works well. The story involves a summoning, that uses blood magic, so Blood Calling seems to work quite nicely.

I hope.

 

Oh, and it should be out by the end of the month. With any luck!

 

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Waiting

OK. I’m almost there.

I’ve run my first draft, and my first round of proofreading. Now I’m out to Beta Readers, having found a handful of willing volunteers. Now to sit back and wait for feedback.

I hate waiting for feedback.

So, I’m trying to keep myself busy with more. And this is where it gets difficult. I want to start on the second book. I want to finish something I’ve previously started. I want to start something new. I have the attention span of a

SQUIRREL!

Sorry, where was I?

Oh, yes.

Trying to get myself going again. Even tried coming up with new writing exercises. The latest one is an evil one. Hopefully sharing it shortly. Meantime, keep watching the skis!

… skies. I meant skies.

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First Draft complete

Whew!

In near record time, especially given my current circumstances, I’ve completed my first draft. Clocking in at 53,618 words, which will no doubt be significantly different by the time I’m ready to publish, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of this one.

Brief synopsis (and I suck at writing synopses): On the night that five friends try to summon a demon, things do not work out according to plan. Those who survive the night find that things that are summoned are not so easily dismissed, and when their paths cross with a pair of supernatural investigators, a fight for survival ensues.

So, first draft done. Now for a swipe at a second draft, incorporating a little proofreading, editing, spellchecking, consistency, etc. And then on to some beta readers!

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Writing

Well, it’s been a little while since I wrote here. But this time, for a damn good reason. I’ve been writing.

I’ve got my inspiration back, my mojo back, and my groove back. I’d say I’m currently about 70%, maybe a little more, through my first draft. And I’ve been really enjoying it. The exercises I ran in the past few posts have been an absolute blessing for me. My current WIP is fairly dialogue-heavy, and for something I used to dread, I’m now finding it hard to stop. One of my main characters is a gobby bastard, and I can’t seem to shut him up.

I love writing the dialogue. I’m reading it out loud, and it sounds about right. It seems to flow.

I’m trying to build suspense in there, and I feel I’m getting that done. There’s chills, blood and gore, and a mythology building up. It’s a long, long way from perfect, and the next stage is going to be getting a couple of beta-readers, and doing some harsh editing (I know it’s needed, and I’m trying to hold off doing it as I go, to avoid losing the flow that I’m building up).

So, this is a swing in, and I’ll be back with a few posts about the process here (from deciding characters, character types, names, mythologies, editing, cover design, etc) soon. Hopefully, very soon. I’m aiming to not just have this thing out this year, but in time for Halloween. Hell, the way I’m going, I’m hoping to have it out by the end of Summer, and the sequel in hand!

See you soon!

 

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Writing Challenge Part Five

OK, this was a tough one.

I’d hit a moment of writer’s block, but still wanted to keep writing. So, first challenge – think of a new challenge. Second challenge – complete the challenge.

And this one was a bit of a doozy. As I write, I find myself endlessly repeating the same words and phrases, over and again. I think every writer does. No matter how great your vocabulary, there’s just something about certain things that keep them coming back to you. For myself, it’s a distraction when writing (moreso when I’m reading), and I get very conscious about it, and have to correct it. So, three solutions. 1) Learn to ignore it, and just go back and fix it. 2) Try to break the habit so I start writing without repetition. 3) Both.

So, this challenge is more about solution 2 (and by extension, 3).

Writing a short story in which no word appears more than once. For extra challenge points, try to avoid words like ‘and’ and ‘the’.

Before even getting to start writing, it means figuring out a suitable scenario. So, here we go:

 

Sunlight glittered through holes in black tarpaulin, falling on churned earth, sizzling and steaming. Pitiful mewling rent half-lit silence. Thrashing, wailing, desperately struggling to escape. Helpless, weakened. Eyes that burned, watched as gloved hands peeled back yellow tape, stepped inside. Man. Breathing heavily behind steamed glass face mask. Kneeling, reaching out tentatively. Taste of fear, calming. Nourishing. Trying to nuzzle against thick leather trousers. Feeling repulsion, flinching.

Tears now.

Openly weeping.

Watched. Carefully.

Cautiously.

Can see self reflected. So hideous. Heart screams. Every time.

Don’t want loneliness any more.

Please.

Look up.

Begging.

Enough, now.

Pleading.

Kill me.

Face dispassionate, uncaring. Studying, like scientist. Hate them all. Bring only suffering, misery. No end.

Snuffling, squirming closer. Turn face upwards.

He puts his finger against wrinkled, filthy skin. Gently strokes.

Screams when savage, little teeth bite glove, flesh, bone off.

Evil grin, bloodied and victorious.

Terrified, scrabbling away. Knowing infection will spread.

Tomorrow, company.

Yes.

 

Honestly? That started ****ing hard! Trying to determine a suitable scenario was a pain. Dialogue-free for me (although that’s a challenge for another day) as a preference. I spent a while trying to figure something out, then started with that first, basic sentence. From there, a vague, half-formed idea gradually took shape. The need to avoid repetition led to a particular style of writing, a different way of telling the story. Something I hadn’t really done before, and I ended up quite liking it. More, I ended up liking the whole scene. I want to do more with that (although the tone would have to change a little), but it worked. Got me thinking, got the old creative juices flowing, and got me writing.

 

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And how’s it been going?

Checking in for an update, I think.

A few posts back, I looked at making some changes to get back into the swing of things. To renew, refresh, revamp, revitalise, and all that jazz.

So, here’s what I’ve done:

I’ve run through my social media, having identified it as a major timewaster/distraction, with Facebook being the worst. Without wanting to delete my account entirely, I edited a lot of stuff out, cut down my posting drastically, and deleted the app from my phone. It helps. Not a lot, but enough. Consequently, I’m barely touching Instagram and Twitter either.

It’s been two weeks since my family was restored to full strength, with my partner and middlest returning from foreign climes. We’ve been working at sleep-training the boys, but forgot that the bright, sunny evenings are here. Sleep-training is progressing, but very slowly. I’m optimistic for a positive outcome at some point.

As a result of the sleep training, I’ve cut down on game playing and TV a lot – as I can’t get near a screen! Hopefully, this can become the norm.

I sketched up some basic writing challenges for myself. I didn’t want to do something as simple as “Here’s a theme, write about it”. That seemed like a bit of a waste. So, I set challenges like “5 minutes fiction – whenever and wherever the muse strikes”; “1 – 10 word sentences”; “A-Z”. Some of the results can be seen in previous posts. Because of their nature, I was able to work on these during my morning/evening commute, on the train, using my phone. They actually worked so well for me that I’m tempted to compile a few more into a short eBook, combining suggested exercises with my outcomes.

I also started something new, as I wanted to avoid falling back into comfort and wallowing about something that hadn’t progressed. So, I did. And hit 10,000 words before I knew it. Technically, that’s enough for a short novella on its own! I was aiming it to be the introduction to a bigger piece – full novel, although likely to be a short one – that would form the first book in a planned series. More on that next post.

So, all in all, a bit of a success, really. New attitude, new commitment. Let’s hope I can keep it going, eh?

 

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Defying Convention

So, it was planned, and thus it was done.

This weekend was our trip to London Film and Comic Convention 2015, and we survived. By the skin of our teeth, but we survived. The queues were long, the temperature hot, the day exhausting. There was much to see and do, and my wallet took a right hammering.

There were some amazing cosplayers, ranging from the subtle (the family doing Mystery Inc.) to the stunning (Predators, Aliens, balloon dinosaur suits, lego figures).

And there were the guests. Aside from the disappointment of cancellations from Charles Dance (work commitments) and Kurt Angle (ill health), we managed a pretty impressive line-up.

Christopher Lloyd first. First thing in the morning, bright and cheerful, a delight to start the day. Whilst queuing for him, we were next to the guests’ refreshment room, so saw a number of them come out. Road Warrior Animal stood out, as he’s freaking huge, and had full face paint. Behind him, hidden by the crowd, a small kid dressed like Rey Mysterio. With the mask. And beard. Rey Mysterio! (He’s a small, small guy).

Next up, Rey Mysterio! Huge queue for him, filled with kids. Rey was late, but an incredibly nice guy, very patient with everyone, polite and friendly. He locked me in a headlock for an awesome pic, and posed with my son.

Then, onto Road Warrior Animal. Smaller queue, older crowd. Animal had brought the gold-plated shoulder pads from SummerSlam ’92, Wembley, and put them on everyone for a pic. He was great for poses, letting people headlock him, and posing to punch my lights out. He won my son’s choice for moment of the day, purely for the shoulder pads.

We had a wander, and found the SyFy channel’s camera set up. A great installation, offering a 360 photo shoot, with some incredible poses and pictures. They provided props, and a great atmosphere. Everyone working there was great at their game. Unfortunately, the queue was just too long and slow, so we had to move on. One to visit when we didn’t have other shoots to do.

Quick trip for a photo with Robert Englund. Considering his age, he has incredible energy and enthusiasm, giving everyone a different pose. And he admired my waistcoat (vest).

Lunch, via a quick trip through the autograph booths to say hi to Tom Savini (lovely chap), John Wagner (miserable), and Robert Rankin (utterly delightful, happy to have a long chat about his books and getting drunk with wrestlers).

Back again, for a shoot with Sigourney Weaver. Long, long queue for that, but a thoroughly lovely, charming, stunning lady. She has one hell of a presence, and easily looks twenty years younger than her age.

Then on to Michael J Fox, who looked thoroughly exhausted and drained, sitting in the DeLorean. Honestly, I felt guilty just taking up his time, as he looked like he was struggling to breathe. I admire his dedication and his career, but my heart went out to him.

And home. Tired, hot, sweaty, broke.

And ready for next year!

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How Bloody Peculiar

One of the things I enjoyed doing between last blog and this was helping to set up H.B. Peculiar, and publishing the first collection of short stories under that name.

Many moons ago, back when Gumtree offered the ability for social groups to advertise and gather, I joined a small(ish) group of geeky types. Self-professed geeky types, with an interest in sci-fi, fantasy, comics, movies, genre stuff, etc. We met on a regular monthly basis, and basically gathered to have a drink and chat, and that was about the sum of it.

The group boasted people of all ages, from all walks of life, with a wide variety of skills, experiences, careers, passions and whatnot. We were, and still are, a welcoming group for strangers.

After getting to grips with the basics of self-publishing, I wanted to do something a little more, and get others involved. I know how easy it is to sit on my hands, knowing that I’ve written something, and not doing anything with it, or lacking the motivation to get up and actually write. So, I spoke with a couple of the creative types at our little gathering, and the germs of an idea came together, for a series of short story collections, spanning different genres and sub-genres, with different challenges, contributors, and formats.

The first collection was an interesting exercise, and I’ll write more about that later. Suffice to say, some of it was painful, some of it educational, some of it delightful, and all of it rewarding. Everything from conception of the “brand”, to deciding the first genre, reading, , critiquing, etc. Great crash course in self-publishing.

But we did it.

How we did it, some of the challenges – choosing the name, working with a group to make decisions remotely, collaborative story telling, etc – I’ll write entries about. But here, I just wanted to say, we did it. I’m proud of what we did.

Anything can be done.

So do it.

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