Self-Publishing Woes

Self-publishing is expensive.

Having attempted to self-publish on the cheap and finding out that it doesn’t work, I decided to remove my book from sale pending some extra content, a new cover, and other bits.  So, I thought I may as well consider a proper professional edit, beta readers and all the jazz that comes with properly releasing a book.  All this with a view to republishing it sometime in the first quarter of next year looking all spangly*.

The problem?

It’s all so expensive.  For a proper edit, I was quoted a little over three hundred pounds and while that’s actually pretty good value when you consider there are some out there asking for over a grand**, it’s still a lot of money on my budget and that’s not even considering that the word count has increased since that quote.  Throw in beta readers and the art for the book and my costs are approaching the one thousand pounds mark before I’ve even set a release date.

Now sure, with suitable preparation I can save the money I need to get all this done.  But it’s going to be tight and I might have to survive on a diet of bread and water for the next six months or so, I jest of course, but you get my point.

So, I got to thinking whether there were other ways I could make money from my writing.  If I’m being honest, saying such things seem a little vulgar, I don’t know about the rest of you, but the thought of hawking my stories feels wrong somehow.  It’s daft of course, what else am I going to do if I want to become a full-time writer?

Anyway, after some thought I have come up with a potential solution to my problem that I’m hoping will enable me to make the required money, whilst also offering something of worth on a regular basis.  The solution; Patreon.

For those of you unaware of what Patreon is, let me direct you to what they (Patreon) call the magic line:

“Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid.”

I have a lot of things I need to do to enable me to my book out in a professional manner that will enable me to get it noticed.  It’s not just all the things I’ve mentioned above, but the necessary funds to promote my book to help get it noticed.  I would also prefer if possible to sell it via a webstore of my own if possible, thus avoiding the middle man, this will obviously incur further costs.  Then there’s the novellas I’ve written to follow the first book and of course the second book I would like to release no more than twelve months after the first and so, on it goes.

The work of any author is never finished, self-published authors just have a tad more to do.

I’ve not come up with a precise model for what I’m going to offer, but short stories at the very least are a given, along with a few extra rewards here and there, I’ll decide firmly in the future.  However, I feel now is the time to offer a word of reassurance, this blog shall forever remain free and I shall still be publishing Vernon stories through it.  My good friend Zog would never forgive me if I tried to charge for those.

Why am I telling you this?

Well it’s like I said sometime, to someone somewhere, or maybe in this blog…let’s just assume I said all right?

“Join me on my journey to becoming a full-time writer.”

To my mind it’s just the next step on the path to becoming a full-time writer and I’m quite excited to see how it goes.  It’s going to be a learning curve for sure and to be truthful a little nerve wracking, but I think it’s just the next logical step.  I shall keep you updated with my progress of course.  If it goes well, then who knows, maybe my experiences might inspire someone reading this blog in the future to try something similar.

Peace out folks, and happy writing!

*Super excellent
**One thousand pound

World Building

World building is hard.

I’ve often looked on enviously at fiction authors who write in a real-world setting, I’ve always thought they had it easier when it came to their worlds.  I mean sure, no -one forced me to write a fantasy series, thereby rendering it necessary for me build a whole new world from the ground up.  It was just the natural way for me to go, having long been a fan of fantasy fiction.

I digress however, the subject of my writing envy.

I think I’ve been a little unfair to my fellow fiction writing contemporaries.  In truth, we all have to build worlds when we write fiction, it is important you see to set the rules of your world in advance and then stick to them.  There’s little more annoying than going through three quarters of a book being told one thing by the story, only for it to do an about face and do something entirely contrary to the pre-existing rules of the story.  It’s jarring and few things will break immersion faster.

In any genre, whether it be fantasy, sci-fi or something a little more grounded like romance or drama, the world the story takes place in needs to be built.  If built in advance, with the author noting the ‘rules’ of the world and keeping in mind it’s lore, then as long as the author sticks to them everything should be consistent and non-jarring.

The same is true no matter what type of fiction you’re writing.  I can well imagine the fact that the Harry Potter series of books were couched in a real-world setting didn’t make it any easier for J.K. Rowling to write them.  Indeed, Lee Child will have had in mind when writing the Jack Reacher books what the eponymous character was capable of when writing them.  All worlds, no matter their location need to be built to a point.

When writing Brogan and the Bandit King and further stories set in the same world I needed to do the same.  Elves and dwarfs are a no-no, but wizards and demons are fine.  There will be fantastical creatures of all varieties for the hero and his companions to battle, but no orcs or goblins.  These are the things I need to remember as I go on.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, I need to decide where to put a city.

A Good End?

This blog has gotten a little of track of late, I think I’ve been letting my sentimental side run away with itself; time to correct that.

So, a post about writing, yay!

I was thinking recently about endings, specifically endings to stories.  In short, they’re hard to do.  I think the hardest thing any writer has to do is bring the curtain down on a story, especially if that story is part of a long running series that they have invested no small an amount of time into.  I’m only just embarking upon writing my own writing adventure with the Brogan books and so I don’t need to think about ending it any time soon, but the thought of doing it fills me with a deep feeling of dread whenever it enters my mind.

I think a writer has two main problems when coming to ending a story, ending at the right time and ending in the right way.

I’ll start with ending at the right time.  One of the worst things a writer can do in my opinion is to draw out a story, all stories and characters for that matter have a shelf life.  The time comes when consideration must be given to whether the best thing for them is to end it, there a few things worse than seeing a much-loved character being flogged like a dead horse to put off their eventual execution.  I get why they do it, we love them, they’re like part of the family and ending their story is akin to taking a family pet to the vet knowing it’ll be last time you do.

Overstating the issue?  Maybe, but I love my characters, even the bastards; I put too much into creating them not to get attached to them.

Whilst timing is important, equally as important is execution.  How many times have we been following a story in whatever medium we’re experiencing it, only to get to the end and be left feeling distinctly underwhelmed.  Take for example the ending to the first trilogy in the Mass Effect series of games.  Now sure it’s purely a matter of opinion on whether the ending to Mass Effect 3 was any good, indeed it is a very polarizing topic.  Much like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it.  But it doesn’t alter the fact that it left many people feeling like they had been sold a lemon.

For those of who haven’t played the games, the series was sold on the basis that the choices you made through the series would affect the ending.  I can only speak for my own experience, but I was personally feeling good running into the last half an hour of gameplay.  The story had been good, the musical score was outstanding and the characters were all behaving in characteristic fashion.  Sadly, everything north of this point was, in my opinion at least, complete and utter bollocks.

Half an hour later and the game was over.  I won’t tell you how it went, I will however say three words that should explain the situation clearly; deus ex machina.  The writers threw a curveball, and not in a good way.  It was a disappointing end to what had otherwise been an outstanding series of games, the response of the writers to criticism didn’t help matters any either, but that’s a topic for another time.  The moral of the story is this; timing and execution are key.  If you want your stories to be remembered for the right reasons you need make sure you end them at the right time and in the right way, of course having a good story also helps.

For my part, I hope that when the time comes for me to end the Brogan series, I do it right.  It may not have many fans now, but those it does have deserve the best I can do.

Peace out folks, and have a lovely day.

The Arts: All Things To All People

The arts.

I think their importance to people’s lives is often underestimated.  They have the power to inspire, to give people the opportunity to escape or appreciate something beautiful.  For people such as myself who aren’t blessed with an overabundance of money, the arts provide an opportunity to see things and places that we may not otherwise see.  To bear witness to events that have long since passed from living memory, to see great and wondrous things that have long since crumbled to dust.

They allow us to order our thoughts and document our own lives, as well as the lives of others.  They allow us to see into the minds of great figures from history, to see how they viewed themselves compared to how their contemporaries viewed them.  They allow us to delve into the collective psyche of nations, to see how they developed and to follow their eventual decline.  They allow us to see the better side of humanity, whether it be music, literature, or any of the other methods of human expression, the importance of the arts cannot be overstated.

Having said all of that, it also allows us to see the ugly side of humanity.  For as long as the arts have existed, they have been used to inspire people to some of the most heinous acts imaginable.  People have used them to espouse hateful political ideologies, leading to some of the worst atrocities in human history.  They have been used to craft policies leading to the oppression and suffering of entire groups of people, for no greater reason than the colour of their skin, their religious and/or political beliefs, their gender or any number of arbitrary reasons of little, to no relevance in judging the worth of a person.

We can be unbelievable shits to each other sometimes, when inspired by a picture, a film, or a piece of music we can react in some of the worst ways imaginable to one another.  But we can also be beautiful, I have been privileged in my life to have witnessed some of the most touching acts of kindness from people in situations little better than the person they are helping.

People have tremendous capacity.  Whatever we choose to create and whatever effect it has, I’d rather have a world of boundless creative possibilities than the alternative.

My mind has been racing with thoughts such as these lately, so expect more such musings.  In the meantime, stay classy world!

It continues…

This is frustrating.

I thought I had a good idea for a blog post, I was all prepared to sit down and write it, I’m past my writers block I thought.  Well, two paragraphs into it I was sat there looking at the two paragraphs I’d written, ruminating about how shit they were and wondering why I can’t seem to put two decent words together.  Indeed, it seems all I can write about these days is my inability to write, it’s made all the worse when I think about how I’ve been like this since the beginning of January.

I think I know what the problem is though, I’ve got a new job.  I’m due to leave my current place of employment where I’ve been working for the last eleven years, same employer, different job and location.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that my problems started around the time I put the application in for this, clearly, it’s causing me some problems.  The upshot of this is that if I’m right, this is only going to be a problem for another month.

This does make me think however, change really isn’t easy.  A new job is going to be good for me, but the fact that I’m going to be leaving the place I’ve made so many friends over the last eleven years is going to be tough.  It’s a big change and it’s not going to be as easy as I might have envisioned it would be, the effect it’s having on my writing is obvious.

I think I’m going to have to take my time and write my way out of this one.  In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted as to my labours.

The lights are on but nobody’s home…

I wrote a little while back about how I couldn’t get my head in the writing game.  Well good news, I’m past that, so great!

So, you might be wondering why it is then that I’m not writing regularly again?  Well therein lies the problem you see.  I’m in the mood, I’m all excited to have my motivation back and be at the stage that I want to start putting pen to paper as it were.  My problem right now is that when it comes to blogging my mind is drawing a blank as to what to write about, a total blank.

It’s a strange situation to be in to be honest.  Usually when I’m in the mood to write, the subject matter just flows from my overactive brain dome onto the page, but not this time.  As it stands now you’d think I lived the most boring and uneventful life imaginable, because when it comes to writing I’m without inspiration.  I partly blame myself for this to be honest, I haven’t had my writing journal in my bag, so there’s nothing to document my thoughts and musings in as I go about my day.

I have just had a thought however, there’s a coffee shop near where I work in Warrington and I must admit it has become a favourite haunt of mine since my friend, Chris and I enjoyed a fine beverage there.  Relaxing in a place with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere might help to inspire me, I’ll take my journal, soak up the atmosphere and see where I end up.

I just need to start taking small steps towards regular writing again.  I suppose you could say I need to rehabilitate myself, because if I’m being honest, this is beginning to get tiresome.

A Healthy Debate

Has anyone ever found themselves in a fiery debate over the merits and behaviours of their favourite character in a book?

I was recently engaged in a heated debate with my brother over a book we had both read.  It was part two of Games Workshop’s Gathering Storm series and having both just finished reading it we engaged in what started out as friendly discussion about it.  We started off discussing the contents of the book specifically, what we thought of it in general and what direction we though the next part might take.  There was recently a leak with regards to the third book and we now have a good idea of where it is going to go, it involves the return of a character that I and many others loath with a passion.  My brother however likes this character and is greatly looking forward to his return, this being were our opinions differed.

My opinion was that the series has been very good up to now, lots of twists and turns that kept the reader guessing, with some good background to boot.  However, the character returning in the third book is a bit of a Marmite character, you either love him or hate him, there doesn’t tend to be much middle ground and truth be told his return probably doesn’t surprise many.  Cue heated discussions as to his virtues or in my case, negative character aspects.  Indeed, it got so heated that we were both starting to get exasperated that the other could not for whatever reason see our respective points of view.

This is not an isolated incident.  Myself and my brother tend to have these discussions regularly, they get so heated that you would think that the people we were discussing were real.  I suppose that is the sign of a good story with well-constructed characters, you feel such an attachment to them that you feel like you must defend them; well I do at least.  I get so worked up that someone is criticizing my favourite character I feel an unstoppable urge to leap to their defence.

Grant Ward from Agents of Shield, Shane Walsh from the Walking Dead and Rogal Dorn from the background of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 game to name but a few.  I can’t help it, they’re great characters and don’t deserve a lot of the criticism they receive.

I could go on about this all day, so I’ll finish off with this.  The art of great story telling is getting people to care about your story and your characters, if people get half as worked up about my characters as I do about other people’s then I shall be a very happy author indeed.

What about yourselves?  Are any of you similarly pushed to these levels of defence?  Any characters you feel are underappreciated?

Please comment below, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Short Story – Vernon and the Chalice of Destiny

Good day to you all.  Upon taking a look back through my blog I realised two things.  Firstly I realised it has been slim pickings in terms of updates here and secondly it’s been a month since I last posted a short story.  It is therefore a great pleasure for to be able to rectify both of these things.


The Chalice of Destiny.

It was almost within Vernon’s grasp, all he had to do was work out how to turn off the flame jets before him.  The chalice itself was hidden inside a vault of some sort, the door was closed of course, but he knew it was in there; no-one had set foot in these caves for over two thousand years.  The flame jets however were proving quite the bother, he had come here with a group of seven other adventure seekers and all barring one of them had perished in the fire; the last of them had given up their quest and left.  But Vernon would not be so easily defeated, all he had to do was work out how to turn them off and open the doors, then it was simply a matter of reaching out and taking the chalice.

‘Hmm,’ he said idly.  ‘Perhaps it is some sort of puzzle.’

He started to look around at the tunnel in which he stood, the walls bathed in the orange glow of the flames fiercely gushing from the holes in the walls.  He had heard tell of some of these most ancient cave systems being littered with traps to keep the treasures within them safe, indeed that would make sense by the assortment of centuries old bones they had encountered, victims of an assortment of now sprung traps.  There were all sorts of carvings and engravings on the walls and floor, telling some sort of tale and he suspected, giving clues to the way into the vault.

‘What a bother,’ he muttered.

He leaned up against the wall and as he did so the stone slab beneath his foot seemed to shift, at first, he paid it no heed assuming the passing of years had taken its toll.  However, he moved across to the other wall and as he stepped on the next slab, it also shifted, causing him to examine them more closely.  Looking down at them he noticed the faint outline of a tree on each one, after a moment of looking at them he noticed that they were not the same, but were in various states of bloom.

‘Of course,’ he said realising the puzzle.  ‘It must be a combination lock, in the order of the seasons.’

Putting his foot on the tree he believed to signify spring, he pushed down as hard as he could and was rewarded with a satisfying click as something dropped into place.  Next, he placed his foot on the stone for summer, with the same result, before doing the same with autumn and then winter.  As he placed his foot on the last stone he heard a loud grinding sound like two stones rubbing together, followed by a loud thump and then a metallic sounding click.  He stood there half expecting to be decapitated by a fiendish trap of some variety, when suddenly the flames flickered and died, followed by the door to the vault grinding open.

‘Finally,’ he said stepping forward into the smoke rising from the now well-cooked corpses of his former companions.

He entered the vault and through the haze of the dust he could see a plinth, around four feet in height and a foot wide.  He started to get excited as he approached, knowing full well that the Chalice of Destiny was now in reach.  Then the smoke cleared and he was faced with an empty plinth, confused for a moment he thought it must have been another puzzle.  But as he looked around he saw carved into the walls laughing faces and slowly came to realise that not only was the Chalice of Destiny not here; it wasn’t anywhere.  It wasn’t even a myth and he had been the victim it seemed, of a very deadly two millennia old practical joke.

‘Bugger.’

Writers Block

I’ve been having a problem lately, I’m having trouble getting my writing head on.

Before Christmas I was in my flow, writing a few blog posts a week and managing find enough time to work on my various projects as well as writing short stories.  I took a break over Christmas, I did a couple of short blog posts, apart from that it was all quiet on the writing front.  Having been at it so consistently last year I really didn’t think a break would be a problem, in fact I rather thought it would benefit me to get away from it for a week.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think taking such a long break was a mistake.  It robbed me off any momentum that I had built, I came to full stop and now I seem to be having trouble getting going again.  What I should have done was dial it down, I should have done less writing rather than no writing at all.  It would have been easier to dial it back up afterwards, to get myself back into a writing mindset.

I’ve always been of the mind with writing that if you’re not in the mood you’re not in the mood, at times like these it’s better to not write, than to try to force it.  I’ve done some of my worst writing when I wasn’t in the mood, produced utter pap* because at the time I thought it better to be doing something than nothing.  Unfortunately, I think I’m just going to have ride this one out, it’ll come back to me.

I wrote this though, so maybe I’m on the verge of fighting back after all.

*crap/rubbish/shit

Short Story – The Whisperers

Good mornings folks.  To kick my blogging efforts off for the new year I shall post for you a short story I wrote in response to a Writers’ Discussion Group prompt on Google+.  Once I again I didn’t win, but I did manage to double my vote count to two.  So I do win…on inside.


‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

She kept whispering it to herself, over and over she said it. She needed to hear the words to reassure herself, to stop herself from getting frightened and fleeing as she had done the first time. She stood watching the pale blue light as it moved slowly down the train track toward her, they didn’t usually react to the living unless you interfered with whatever it was they were doing. She had no intention of interfering, she just had to get close enough to see it, to see it’s face.

‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

That wasn’t strictly speaking true, back at camp the elders believed that they fed off people’s fear. She didn’t believe that though, she had seen a few of them up close and though she had been terrified each time, they didn’t get her. Polly knew it was their voices, if you heard their voices they would whisper things to you, anyone who heard their voices killed themselves. Maybe not straight away, sometimes they would wait days or a week, but they always killed themselves in the end.

‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

The light from Polly’s torch was shaking now, the closer it got the more scared she got and the more the torch shook. She knew she should run, she knew she should go back to camp and never try this again, but she had to see. This was close to where she would have been when it happened, it could be her. So, she stood her ground, waited for it to reach her.

‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

As it got closer Polly got out her headphones, she always listened to music when she went to see them. Unless you were deaf it was the only way to make sure you didn’t hear them, the only way to be sure you didn’t hear the whispers. No-one knew what they said, the people that heard them didn’t talk much afterwards. They became distant, sad even, until eventually they couldn’t take it anymore. She had made sure to scavenge some noise cancelling headphones, once they were on you could hear nothing but the music.

‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

It was close now, she wasn’t good at judging distances. She hadn’t been taught that before it happened, she supposed now unless she met someone else that knew, she would never learn. It was though, close enough where she could make out the shape of a person in its aura. She could see its mouth moving, though it wasn’t close enough for her to see it’s lips. Even if she could she wouldn’t be able to make out what it was saying, the only way to know that, was by listening to them and everyone knew better than to do that.

‘They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.’

The elders were scared, especially Mike; he was sixteen in a week and he was scared he was going to be taken…like the adults. It had been three hundred and two days since they had been taken, three hundred and two days since Polly had seen her. She turned off her torch, they went see through if you shined light at them and she needed to see it’s face. Finally, it was close enough for her to see.

‘Mom?’