General Ramblings

Blurbing

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I’ve been busy over the weekend doing the first round of self-editing on “The Second Coming” and I’m almost done.

Listening to a robotic voice read back the words is monotonous but highly effective way of catching out typos.

Missed words or wrong words (like using “and” instead of “an”, or “in” instead of “it”) stand out like the proverbial, so when they show up I can run the red pen through them to correct later.

I’ve also been working on that most hated of tasks: writing the blurb. What I’ve got so far is below, and I’m pretty happy with it. Like always I’ll sit on it for a while and come back to it later.

The Blurb:

Skylar, the wayward daughter of Stan (better known as Satan thanks to a typo in a first edition) is desperate to escape the ethereal planes of Hell and become a bounty hunter.

Sapphire, God’s forgotten second scion, is oblivious of her divine heritage. Archangel Gabriel was to deliver the news on the night of her conception, but wound up bleeding and left for dead behind a seedy strip club.

So instead of delivering God’s latest and overriding commandment of “Don’t be a dick” to the people of Earth, Sapphire gets sucked into Skylar’s quest of hunting down an escaped soul from Hell that’s causing mayhem in Las Vegas.

The Second Coming is a wickedly funny urban fantasy crossed with comedic blasphemy, and laughing along with this book may get you a visit from Stan.

So hopefully it does what a good blurb is supposed to do. That is, suck you in and make you want to read the book. What do you think? Opinions are always welcome. 🙂

In other news, I’ve picked up a couple of nice 4 and 5 star ratings for The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior. A 4-star on Amazon.com, a 5-star on Amazon.co.uk and 2 x 5-stars over on Goodreads! (There’s also a 2-star on Goodreads, but I’ll ignore that. Can’t please everyone, and they’re obviously in the minority of people without a sense of humour… hehe).


 

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The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior

Is available exclusively through Amazon.

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First Draft in the Bag!

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Woo! First draft of “The Second Coming” is finally done and clocked in at just over 33,000 words, so a little more than I originally estimated (guessed 30k). Not far off as guesses go.

Now the (not so) fun bit begins. First round of self-editing, which basically means pushing the whole through thing ProWritingAid which I find is immensely useful. It points out stuff like crappy comma placements, grammatical errors, passive phrasing, repetition and a bunch of other stuff that you become blind to because it’s your writing.

After that I’ll print it out and put the text through a text-to-speech program. This reads my story back in a robotic monotone which is useful for picking up awkward phrasing and other misspellings. I mark-up the print out and then makes the changes to the file.

When all that’s done it’s off to my beta readers who find even more stuff I’ve missed and give me excellent feedback on the parts of the book. And once those changes are made, it’ll be ready for export to Kindle and Paperback!

So all that considered I’m still quite a few weeks away from being ready to release it to the world. I’ll also need to bash out a blurb for it, which is probably the part I hate the most. Trying to come up with a few sentences to make people want to buy the book is rather difficult.

What comes next? I’m not 100% sure at the moment. I’ve got a few things I’m working, including an app to help kids learn to read and a website to support it. It’s been neglected for the past few weeks while I finished “The Second Coming”, so I need to get back to that.

Also kicking around inside my head is an idea for a second adventure for Gustav Gustavson. It’s rudimentary at the moment so needs a lot of fleshing out… so we’ll see where that goes.

I’ve also got a few ideas for a couple of kids books I wouldn’t mind looking at. By a wide margin they aren’t my biggest sellers, but I like being able to write and illustrate stories for my kids.

I price them as low as I possibly can so they don’t make me any money when they sell but it does give me a smile to know someone out there is laughing along with their kids because of something I wrote.


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Check out my most recently published novel

The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior

Available exclusively through Amazon.

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I Was a Teenage Washout

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This piece was written by a guy I went to school with, but scarcely seen since. I rarely have the time to catch up with people from my present, let alone my past to see how they’re doing, even those I was close to. Every now and then a few of us catch up, but years can elapse between these.

Like everyone, there never seems to be enough time in the day. Facebook comes to the rescue in most regards. I tend to keep my opinions to myself though, so I mostly read but not comment. It’s something I’m working on trying to fix about myself. My wife will attest that I’m not the most communicative of people you’ll ever meet.

All that aside, I’m glad to see he’s kicking butt and taking names though. I think there’s a lesson in this for all of us. Don’t let a single result from your life define you. Always strive to reinvent yourself because you never know where it might take you.

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Every student at UON has a story.

The paths we travel to arrive here are as diverse as we are. For every high school high achiever, for whom university study was an expected next step, an accepted reality, there is a student who greets university life as something of an anomaly. UON has an inordinate number of students who are the first in their family to attend university. People from working class, marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds mingle happily with the more traditional student body, largely due to UON’s hugely successful foundation studies programs: Open Foundation, Newstep and Yapug.

I am a graduate of Open Foundation, considered one of the more successful foundation studies program in the country. Applying for Open Foundation was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, and I’ve been asked to share my story. Open Foundation’s intensive program is a lesson in…

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Almost Done!

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The first draft of my current work in progress is almost done. I’m at about 80% of my 30,000 word goal for this one, so I’m sitting on a little over 24,000 words.

Once that’s done though the real work begins.

By real work I’m talking about going back and reading through the whole thing. Adding where necessary (I tend to gloss over parts on my first run through, so need to add in parts for it to make sense) and deleting where necessary to tighten up the story where it’s messy. And then going back to fix grammar and typos I introduced by adding new bits.

I’m happy with the current cover design I’m using, the Heaven / Hell split you can see at the top of this post. My name is smack bang in the middle of the Hell section. I’ve no doubt the subject matter of this one might make me a target of religious nut bags who can’t see the funny side of life, so at least I’ve got a head start on them.

I’ve also been actively avoiding thinking about the blurb, since that’s one of my most hated parts of the process. Trying to condense the novel into a couple hundred words that makes people want to click the “Buy Now!” button.

But these are the evils one must accept when trying to carve out a life as an author, especially a self-publishing one.

Sale Update

Last week I ran a 0.99 sale on The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior. I’m happy to say it was a huge success, and as it happens, it was my most successful sale I’ve ever run, with heaps of people grabbing a copy to read.

I’m quietly hopeful that some of these will turn into Amazon reviews. They’re one thing I’ve never had much luck at getting. I’ve read somewhere that only like one out of every hundred or more readers will leave a review, so I would have thought I’d have seen a few more by now. Perhaps the 1 in 100 is actually much higher.


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Check out my most recently published novel

The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior

Available exclusively through Amazon.

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The difference a few days makes

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A minor update today on my current work in progress – The Second Coming. I wasn’t fully in love with the previous cover I’d designed, and after showing it around neither were other people so I went back to the drawing board.

I ditched basically everything except part of the title font and the little horns, and came at it from a different angle, the end result being what you see here.

Sitting at a little shy of 14,000 words, the work in progress is progressing really well. The words and plot are flowing nicely.

No guesses on when the first draft will be done yet though. It really depends on how much time I can find each day to write. I’ve got out a few thousand in the last few days though which has been really good progress.

That’s all for now. The kids are being quiet for the moment so I should try to bash out a few more words into the draft. 🙂


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Check out my most recently published novel

The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior

Available exclusively through Amazon.

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#AmGoingToHell

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After a few weeks of not touching the work in progress at all, I’m back into it at full steam. I added approximately 1000 words since last night, so the total currently sitting at around 11,300 words and nowhere near done yet.

I’ve also (because I can’t help myself) been working on a cover design. First attempt is shown here. Not 100% on the design, but it’s literally the first attempt.

It’s a comedic urban fantasy novel featuring the God’s daughter Sapphire, and the Devil’s daughter Skylar, as they hunt escaped demons in Las Vegas and generally try to stay out of mischief.

It’s got everything you need to keep you laughing. God trying to get laid. Dinosaurs scaring the virgin Mary. A misnamed son of God (Chris, aka Jesus) and the faith he accidentally started. Stan, the Devil (who thanks to a misprint is now more commonly known as Satan) and his headstrong daughter Skylar, and a stripper named Cindy Doo-Yoo who bears the second child of God, Sapphire.

Here’s an (unedited and un-proof read) snippet from the first chapter.

“Behold,” said God. “I am your creator and you will lay with me.”

God cocked an eyebrow and stroked his beard. A beatific smile peeked out from behind the lush, white facial hair. His robes gleamed brightly in the late afternoon sun, and God knew he had it in the bag.

Mary was less than impressed. She scowled at God and flapped her hands to dissipate the smoke that threatened to darken her recently laundered bedsheets.

“I’ll give you this,” Mary said once the smoke had cleared, “as far as pick-up lines go it’s one of the more unique ones I’ve heard.”

“But I am your creator,” God sputtered. “I am bestowing upon you the great honor of being the bearer of my child.”

God stroked his beard again and pushed a hand through his hair, slicking it back. He was sure this approach had worked in the past. Mary put a hand on her hip and looked at God, an expression of skepticism painted on her face.

“If you’re really God, then prove it,” Mary said.

“Easy!” God said, then mumbled, “whatever happened to just having faith?”

“What was that last bit?” asked Mary.

“Nothing! Right then, let’s get started,” God said and clicked his fingers.

Behind him materialized two equally enormous and fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex. Mary didn’t know what they were, but when two hulking anachronisms appear out of thin air and scream at you, it doesn’t much matter if you know what they’re called or not.

I think it’s coming along nicely. The few week break I took from writing turned out to be a very good thing as I brainstormed a lot of the plot and added lots of extra complexity into the story line.

So why did I take a break? Well, that’s something else entirely. My wife and I are developing an education app and website to help young children learn to read and spell as well as other things along the same line. Making the app has been taking up a lot of my time while I get it right.

It’s still a few weeks away from being ready, so I won’t be giving away anything just yet. Stay tuned to this blog for more on this in the coming weeks.


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Check out my Author Profile at Amazon for everything I’ve published.

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Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, and the Next Generation (aka my kids)

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I had the distinct pleasure of indoctrinating… er, I mean introducing my kids (6 and 3) to the world of Ghostbusters on the weekend. Completely unintentional, mind you. I hadn’t meant on them watching it, but they wandered out when it started, saw the librarian ghost (thought she was fantastic) and sat and watched the whole thing.

Their favourite part? The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of course. Once we’d finished the first one they saw the picture of the “Lady Ghostbusters” (as they’ve dubbed them) as we had to watch that too.

So over the weekend we’ve watched the original twice, the remake once, and a heap of the cartoon Ghostbusters on YouTube. Plus, today I’ve printed out a heap of colouring pages to keep them busy.

I always held out hope that one day my nerdier interests would influence their tastes. When my eldest was a baby and I’d be nursing her and watching Doctor Who, I used to tell my wife that we were enjoying our favourite show together.

Neither of my kids have so far shown an interest in the Doctor, but it seems as though I’m at least on the right track.

As for the Ghostbusters reboot (the Lady Ghostbusters according to my kids), I really enjoyed it. Had a heap of great moments that had me laughing out loud, and the whole sequence at the end when they’re sort of back in time was fantastic.

It’s a shame the mysogonerds had to go and ruin its chances (and the chances of any sequels) at the box office by spreading their hate before even stopping to consider that it might, in fact, be good for the franchise. So they’ve successfully robbed us of any chance of seeing more Ghostbusters any time soon.

Of course now the same thing is happening with the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor in Doctor Who. I’m sure the BBC will stick to their guns, and we’ll see a few seasons with Ms Whittaker at the helm of the TARDIS. I believe this will be the shot-in-the-arm the Doctor Who franchise needs to keep it going strong.

I’ve been a fan of the Doctor since I used to watch the original series as a kid, and again with the rebooted continuation. Since the (seemingly at the time) throwaway line during “The Doctor’s Wife” episode about the Corsair being a bad girl during some of his/her regenerations.

That planted the seed in my mind that one day we might see a Time Lady. Then following up with The Master / Missy regeneration, and the on-screen regeneration during Hell Bent, it seemed like an almost certainty.

Personally I can’t wait to see Ms Whittaker’s take on the Doctor. My personal preference for the role was admittedly Richard Ayoade, who I’d still like to see as the Doctor one day. But until then, I’m eager to see a Time Lady in the role. I think it’ll give a unique depth to the character we’ve not seen before, and I for one can’t wait.

I hope my Kindle never dies

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I love technology. I love all the new clever things that people way smarter than me invent and put out.

Even my Kindle isn’t immune. New versions keep coming out: back lit, no buttons touchscreen, etc… but my Kindle is one thing I refuse to update.

It’s got one job to do and it does it well. Yes, I need a light to see the screen. Yes, I have to press buttons to navigate… but damn it if this humble piece of tech doesn’t hold a special place in my heart.

It looks worn out, well used and loved to death I prefer to think. I hope it never dies. 😀

Got one in worse condition than mine?

My Kindle with subtle ad for my book 😉

Vikings, Reddit, and Real Life

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The last month has been hectic. My pay-the-bills job has been keeping me busy, plus other things outside of work have got me to the point of not wanting to do any writing when I finally have spare time.

I know that’s not the attitude to have, but it’s just been exhausting. That said, I think things are finally easing up a little which is giving me time to think about my next project.

I’ve decided to work on a new idea that’s been floating around in my head rather than the other story I got part of the way through before stopping to write Badlands and The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior.

It’s still a little too early in the game to give away too much, other than to say it may make me a target for religious nut-bags. It’s a humorous tale of God and the Devil, Christ and few other family members and the havoc they cause.

Other than that I’ve been spending a lot of time over on Reddit as a way of not doing any writing. The Writing Prompts subreddit is one of my favourite places to hang out, reading all the prompt-inspired responses. I’ve posted a few of my own over the time, none that have really taken off until the one I posted the other day.

The prompt I submitted was: You accidentally summon a demon by trying to pronounce IKEA product names. I honestly didn’t expect it to get any traction, much like the ones that I posted before. But to my utter astonishment it took off, trending as high as top spot in the subreddit and garnering over 7,800 up-votes and even a gold star.

If you’ve got a bit of time, go over to Reddit and check out the awesome responses people have posted. It’s great to see how people interpret the response in different ways.

In The Totally True Adventures of Gustav Gustavson – Legendary Viking Warrior related news, it’s now been a little over a month since I released this book and I can honestly say it’s by a wide margin the best-selling book I’ve ever put out there.

It’s been snapped up by people all over the world, including countries I’ve never reached before. Sales have slowed a little since its initial release but I’m still seeing lots of people grabbing copies through Kindle Unlimited, and even the odd paperback copy being sold. Having people read and enjoy something I’ve written really makes my day.

That’s all for now. Back to procrastinating …er… working on my next book. 🙂

Judging Books By Their Covers

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Yes, I know you’re not supposed to judge books by their covers but I’m talking about my own here so I think I’m okay.

I’ve never been 100% happy with the covers of Boneyards or Badlands – the two books of the FTW series, so over the last week or so I’ve been busy reworking them into something I’m happier with.

This time I’ve tried to incorporate something that feels more like the world described in the book.

Boneyards takes place (mostly) inside the Boneyards where piles of scrap are picked over by the people living there. Check out the Boneyards page for more on this book.

I think the new cover shows this much better than the concrete wall of the previous cover. The good news out of all of this is if you previously purchased a copy with the old cover it’s now a collector’s item! 🙂

The cover of Badlands has also been updated to look more like the environment our heroines are exposed to.

The book takes place outside the walls of the city, in the baron wastelands beyond, the imagery which I’ve tried to inspire on the cover. Check out the Badlands page for more about this book.

I’ve also made the two covers similar in both colour scheme and title area to help join the two together when seen as a set.

If you’ve not yet read the series, what are you waiting for? Check out the sample of Boneyards over at Amazon!

Both books as well as the combined edition are available on Kindle Unlimited as well if you’ve got that.


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Check out my Author Profile at Amazon for everything I’ve published.

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