Sunday, 19 October 2014

Putting the novel out: What I've Learned


So, my debut full length novel came out on October the 6th. A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 as a screenplay outline and some storyboards, and then over the years it became something I would toy with here and there whenever I wasn't writing something else. In 2007 I went legit and became a writer for a national music magazine, which I'm still with to this day, but that (along with a lot of other writing gigs, day jobs and life stuff) meant I never got around to writing much of the novel.

That changed when I started taking part in NaNoWriMo, and suddenly I had 50,000 words of the novel done and ready to be completed. The other stuff continued to hod the novel back, but I did finally finish it a little while back and decided to publish it myself as an experiment. I'd already put seven books out, but never a novel. I wanted to see what the experience was like, and what I could learn from it.

I actually learned a fair few things, and I'd like to share some with you that might possibly help you with your own projects.

With A Stolen Fate, the story was part of my life for so long that a lot of it was set in stone, but I found that breaking out of that set concept now and again was very liberating and made for a better experience for both myself and the readers who have checked it out so far. I wrote a number of the scenes out of sequence, which helped me direct the flow of the action towards later scenes and also allow me to add some foreshadowing of events during the climax.

I wasn't sure if I would ever write another book (long story) and thus I also wanted to have this one be as complete as I could make it, but allowing for enough loose ends for there to be a sequel if the demand was there (right now it seems there is, but we shall have to wait a little longer for the final decision). Your novel, even if part of a series, still needs to be able to offer a complete and satisfying story to readers, as not all of them will pick up the other volumes which might follow.

The main thing I learned though, which I learned through my own mistakes, is to make the book as professional as you possibly can, and not just visually. The cover is a hugely important thing. If it looks amateurish and unable to stand next to professionally published books, then a lot of readers will just scroll past it. I tried to make A Stolen Fate look great, even though all of the tools I used (Pixabay, Pixlr and Cooltext) were all free.


However, the cover and blurb aren't the only thing to do to a high standard, which is where I made my mistake. Despite several passes through the book, hours upon hours of editing and reworking it, there seem to still be errors that I missed. I didn't get it checked over by a fresh set of eyes, and as such while the book looks brilliant, there are typos in it which I missed. I'm saddened by this and annoyed at myself, as I could have easily sorted those out. The book is getting a great response, but those typos are a downer for me.


Thats the thing though – the book really needed to be looked at by another reader. I am doing this now, and will put out a new edition of the book with corrections in the near future. If people are going to keep buying it, then they deserve the best version that it can possibly be. I've let myself down with this and will ensure it won't happen again. My wife (an incredible writer whose columns and fiction are far more widely appreciated than mine so far) is now proofing the book again so I can put things right. However, I really should have done that I the first place.

Also, make sure you read it in print as well as digitally, as you'll always spot things you need t change in a print copy that you may miss digitally.

Another thing I learned is that the book will take you to unexpected places that will dictate changes to your plans for the future. When I finished A Stolen Fate, I had already written 43,000 words of a possible sequel, but those 43,000 words are now being almost entirely scrapped. Why? Because once I'd completed the 83,000 words of the first book, a lot had changed with the characters and what they had to do. Still, it's a starting point.

So to recap, write well, write what the story needs you to write, and make sure you get it checked over before publishing it. Good luck with your own projects. I'll see you next month for this year's NaNoWriMo adventure, where I'll be starting the sequel from scratch.

Next time, I'll do things much better, for myself and my readers. Thanks for being there.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE – OUT NOW!


A STOLEN FATE, my debut full length novel, is available to order now! Paperback and Kindle editions are available from Amazon sites around the world.

It's been a long and strange journey completing this story and being the only person who has been around these characters until now, and it's a weird feeling finally sharing Louise, Mercy, Veil, Vincent, Brandon, Eve, Fate and the others with you now. It's a good feeling though.

A dark urban fantasy story with a UK edge, it follows the young lady called Louise and the strange world she uncovers when she wakes up after her own murder…

Check it out at the links below, or at the Amazon local to you. 



Dear retail stores: Feel free to stock the book! You can find it via Createspace's wholesale service. 

A Stolen Fate: The Soundtrack 

 Ok, so it's not an official soundtrack as such, but these are some of the songs which helped to me to finish the novel. The bias is towards alternative rock and gothic metal, which fits the book perfectly. You can purchase the MP3s from the widget below the playlist.



Sunday, 5 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE: As one journey ends, does another begin?

After seven books, seventy-or-so issues of a national magazine and a bunch of other stuff, the time felt right to get one of my most precious projects out there. All writers have those special save-it-for-the-right-time project, and this year it felt right that one of mine should come to fruition.

A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 under the title of THE SHADOW CHILDREN, as a screenplay and some storyboards, all stemming from a script cover image I made in a library, of a young Goth lady merging from a tunnel, the title below it and the slogan “Even hell has its angels” over the top. I've always liked to start a project with a visual reference, be it images I've found or something I've made. Once there is some kind of visual representation of a project it can start to develop for me. Yeah, that's not how a lot of people work but it's been a method which has often worked very well for me with other projects.

This one was inspired by the Goth subculture I was part of, X-men comics, films like Highlander and The Crow, novels like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Clive Barker's Cabal (filmed as NIGHTBREED) and other such delights.

I wrote 43,000 words of the novel's first draft a few years ago, 2010 I believe, but it remained unfinished for years due to the growth and development of my career as a rock journalist, changing day jobs and in 2012 becoming a father. I always told myself I'd keep that project safe until the time was right to take it to someone, but then it dawned on me that I'd had some success with putting things out myself, such as with my previous book, VHS Ate My Brain.

This realization also brought to light a fear I'd had about the project since starting it. I'd never put out a full length novel before. This is uncharted territory. My other books have been short fiction, novellas and non-fiction.


This was a big step, and I realized I had been scared to cross it. I had to change that. I'd submitted early samples of it to publishers, but I didn't push it enough. Now the time had come to take a chance, to prove to myself I could complete a full length novel and get it out there. So I have, and I am doing so. I revised the original 43,000 words and wrote a further 40,000, revised the whole thing and trimmed it. More new scenes came, and more trimming. Suddenly it was finished, and I was uploading it to Createspace and KDP with covers I'd made online.

Why take this approach? Because I'm curious. I want to see what happens. I would love to develop my career further, but above all else I want this story out there and being read. It's lived in my head for long enough, and now it's time to share it. Where do I go from here? I don't actually now. Will this be a one-off? The figures between now and the end of the year will dictate that. There is already a sequel at 41,000 words, and other stuff too.

This is a new adventure for me. A new journey emerging from another which lasted 16 years. I know where the story of the novel will go next, but I have no idea where my own will go now. We shall see. What do I want from the release of A Stolen Fate? I want people to enjoy it. I want people to share the characters and story I've played over in my head for my entire adult life. I want to see what happens next.

Please do check out A Stolen Fate and let's find out together.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE - OUT ON MONDAY!

Hey all! Wow, I haven't posted here since August? Time flies when your life changes. My second son was born in late August, and thus with the day job, the freelancing, the novel and a very full family life, posts here became hard things to maintain.

However…

My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, is coming out on Monday on Amazon sites worldwide! The pre-order for the Kindle edition is currently live at this link, and the paperback will be available to order on the day of release, Monday the 6th of October.

The Kindle version of the book will remain at that loooowww price until the end of the year.

I would be massively grateful to you if you'd be kind enough to check it out. If the book sells a certain secret number, then future stories in that universe, and indeed the rest of the things that make up my writing career, will be able to continue.

There's so much I want to tell you in future titles. I really look forward to you continuing to join me on this journey.

Thank you so much. For everything.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A STOLEN FATE - FINAL COVER AND PRERELEASE INFO - BOOK NEWS

A STOLEN FATE

My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, will be released on the 6th of October in paperback and ebook. The novel will be available to pre-order on Amazon in both formats in mid September.

A unique dark urban fantasy story with elements of comics, horror movies, anime and more, the book has been a part of my life in one form or another since 1998, and now I am finally ready to get that story out there and into your eyes.

These are characters and events which have helped to shape me as a person and a writer, and after so many years I have finally been able to create the definitive version of the original story and I want to share it with you.

Writing this version of the book has been a fascinating, frustrating and humbling experience. I hope that you enjoy the story when it finally sees release. It's strange to think that the tale I've kept secret for my entire adult life will now start to be told properly.

BOOK NEWS

Once A STOLEN FATE is out, several of my previous books will see an overhaul and redesign, as well as a move to a new publishing platform for many of them.

Depending on the reception to A Stolen Fate, a number of other projects will be completed to follow it, the first being the third book in the OTHERSIDE trilogy of novellas, a new collection of short pieces and maybe even the sequel to A Stolen Fate, which is already 2/3 complete.

Beyond those, other non-fiction titles are being considered, continuing my journey through the worlds of pop culture which made me grow up with a head full of weird stuff, monsters spaceships and spandex.

These would include sequels to both BAGGED AND BOARDED: LIFE ON PLANET GEEK and my most recent (and surprisingly popular) VHS ATE MY BRAIN.

There are big life changes going on too, but I'm sure you'll hear about those soon as well.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: A GALAXY OF EXCITEMENT OPENS UP



Okay. So. Panels to Frames is back, for now at least. It may still be homeless (Lost In The Multiplex remains offline – I hope the place comes back someday, as it was a great place), but there's stuff I need to talk about. The column covered comic book movies and the related lifestyle, and right now seems like a damn good time to talk comics, film and comic based films once again. In fact, there's rarely been a better time to do it. Excitement for a comic book movie release hasn't been this high since the Avengers film arrived and blew a great many of the world's minds.

Basically, Guardians of the Galaxy has exploded across the world, and the cinematic Marvel Universe is opening a lot of minds to the prospect of more cosmic adventures, and that's an absolutely beautiful thing to see. An interest in far-flung adventures with ludicrous characters, comedy, action, pathos and the promise of a larger universe is a thrilling prospect, and one which I hope will help to fire up the imaginations of a new generation of young fans.

It may be the grumpy old geek in me speaking (it usually is), but having comic book movies continue to kick box office ass keeps positive role models in the public eye, and also helps young creators be inspired to bring their own characters to life in the future. The kids watching these films right now are the people who one day will be running the studios and publishers that will bring more heroes into the lives of yet more fans-in-waiting.


I am yet to see Guardians of the Galaxy (I'm finally getting the chance this coming Wednesday, and I'm taking my awesome mum along as it looks like the sort of film we would have watched together when I was a kid), but the massive amount of positivity surrounding the film is just intoxicating. I've seen so many reviews that say it harkens back to another era, a retro sci-fi comedy blockbuster with heart, a tongue-in-cheek adventure, a great big romp, that I can't help but get excited.

People are talking about it being a ton of fun, real fun, and it's bringing to mind the sort of uncomplicated, joyous adventure of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Romancing The Stone and suchlike. I love that. I love that something that people are picking up on is how the film is making them feel (especially with its upsetting opening scenes). That emotional investment in characters an what they get caught up in is something that has been missing from a lot of recent blockbusters outside of comic book films, and I'm proud to say I'm still a fan.

I've said it before but it remain true – it's a beautiful thing to finally be able to show the world that we were right all along and these stories and characters are genuinely wonderful. It's a wonderfully liberating feeling. All those years with comics being frowned upon as unimportant fluff are being made up for by comic book films breaking records while audiences flock to lap up more adventures with improbable people in improbable costumes doing improbable things.

Escapism is a wonderful thing, and in an increasingly tough world to live in, right now we could do with all of the escapism we can get. This should be easy to remedy, as the sequel to Guardians has now been confirmed. As soon as the credits roll (and you've watched both credits scenes), it's time to get excited again.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Book Review - Hatchet Job By Mark Kermode

Hatchet Job
By Mark Kermode


I wonder if I'd get on with Mark Kermode if I ever met him. I think I probably would, even though I often disagree with him. Disagreeing with a critic is something that keeps the film community's heart beating, and while this book talks a great deal about the changing times and the changing opinion of critics, it also makes a a good arguement for their continued existence. Expertise is a big factor in the usefulness of a film critic in this day and age where film companies are now using random tweets from dubious sources on their advertising.

With the rise of online critics, the professionals have had to deal with a lot of competition from idiots like myself (see my now-defunct film site, Diary Of A Genre Addict, for my own examples), and Hatchet Job takes a look at how this has changed the film industry a little, and how it has certainly changed the public view of dedicated critics.

While not as venomous as his previous book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex or as funny as his near-legendary It's Only A Movie, Hatchet Job is nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining read for film lovers and popular culture historians.

Once again, the anecdotes are the most entertaining part (especially the "Well? Say it to my face!" conversation, which is a delight), but Kermode gets his point across well and with plenty of knowledge to back up his arguements. Do we still need professional critics? yes we do. The word 'professional' is the key.

While bog standard film nuts like me may well enjoy spouting off about films blindly into the ether, the pros have a more tangible audience, even now in the digital age. It would be a shame to see them vanish entirely. Especially as then there would be less books like this satisfying and well-written volume. With Hatchet Job, Mark Kermode reinforces his status as the UK's best film critic with a quiff.