Tag Archives: book

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain

Okay, so at the start of the month the final book of the Nameless War Trilogy hit the digital shelves and since then I’ve been pretty quiet here. I’m sure publicity types would say this is exactly when I should be trying the drum up every ounce of publicity but after ten years of effort and six months of frantic effort my brain was fried and I needed to step after from the keyboard. Since then I’ve been engaging in a bit of DIY, gardening, miniature painting and general re-engagement with planet Earth.

While I’ve been doing that though I’ve been thinking about what my next writing project should be, or to be more precise, what my next three should be.

First off there is going to be a second Ships of the Fleet book. I’m not sure on a time frame but provisionally Spring of next year. Subject is going to be the early cruisers of the fleet, so the likes of Hood and the rest of Geriatrics.  This is mostly because it will be easier to establish a consistent look if I start from the beginning.

Number two a stand a lone science fiction story, not related to the Battle Fleet setting. It was something I started as part of a writing group but had to set to one side when time started to press. Whether it will be a novel or novella, time will tell.

The third item which definitely in the slot marked ‘longer term planing’ is a return to the Battle Fleet setting and that is the one which I’m still pondering on. The question is forward or back?

To go forwards meaning going into the post Nameless War period. Beyond a few idle notions on ship design and probably about a postcard’s worth of rough ideas I haven’t got a lot to work with. Not necessarily a bad thing at this stage, but from experience I know that I need a starting point and where I’m finishing; the the stuff in the middle, that I can work out as I go a long.

The other alternative is backwards and that means the Contact War.  Quite a while back I talked about my lost book, the one that fell foul of a hard drive failure, the one I was sure I was never going to go back to. Like the forward option next to nothing is currently written down. However there is a lot of the history of the Contact War rattling around in my brain, not just background and world building but younger versions of some of the main characters from the Nameless War and the moments that shaped them. Also when I started writing the text for the first of the Ships of the Fleet books I found myself starting to fill in some of the gaps.

There is however one glaring problem – The Contact War would fall firmly into the category of prequel and – to put it mildly – prequels don’t have a great track record.

You don't say

You don’t say

The prequel as a concept has some pretty glaring problems built in. With the end point effectively known then the writer’s options are considerably limited, particularly in terms of physical danger (something close to my writing heart). It is hard to get any dramatic tension going, it doesn’t matter how big the bus the writer has gleefully thrown the character under is, if the reader knows that character X was still around thirty years later. There is also the question of fine details and avoiding inconsistencies. Details that were handwaved before now have to be filled it and that might be problematic. The earlier work might have had a throw away line about two characters having know each since a given time or event, so now you are going have have to make sure that actually happens. All of which means a prequel has to jump a lot more hurdles to be considered ‘good’

So as I say pondering is being done.

Whatever direction I do go in the important thing is that it widen and enrich the setting. As said when announced the release date of the Last Charge I am proud of my work and anything that gets attached to it be it sequels, prequels or attachments must also be something I’m proud of because if I’m not proud of it, then why bother that all?

ahem...

ahem…

Well yes apart from that.

Until next time.

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Update on The Last Charge – Book Three of the Nameless War and other news

The Last Charge

Okay, so where are we up to?

Despite a dose of food poisoning this week saw the hand over of the manuscript for The Last Charge get handed over to my editor so unless he picks up something that has gone horribly, horribly sideways, the October release date is still looking good. In terms of tasks to be completed that leaves me with:

The Blurb (already wip)

The Cover Art (not started but I have some ideas)

Reading the manuscript again once I get it back. (I don’t remember writing this sex scene)

Preparing the file for the various electronic platforms. (Why won’t you work you stupid piece *************)

Preparing the file for the paperback.  (Why won’t you work you even stupider piece *************)

Preparing for the release.

But like I said – looking good.

 

Other News

As regular visitors are likely aware I have had an ongoing blog project call Ships of the Fleet. Up to now it has been done mostly for my own amusement but I am planning to formalize and expand the material into a short ship guide which I intend to release as an ebook along side Book Three. I don’t know whether there is a market for this kind of material so this project is me testing the water. The subject of the book will be the ‘Battleships of the Fleet’. So far I already have one new model done up with another about a quarter done and the write up has begun. I’ll need to do two more models and go back and look at the three which have already been displayed to freshen them up a bit*.

This does mean that bits of Ships of the Fleet might be disappearing in the future so enjoy them now. However, this is a side project, which means of secondary importance. If time starts getting short, then Book Three comes first.

Okay that’s the new round up complete.

 

 

 

* I recently and finally got round to obtaining a new PC. In the past I would decide a model was done when it got to a level of complexity that caused my old computer to basically stop and have a little cry every time I asked it to do anything.

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Re-Blog: Making Excuses for Science Fiction

A re-blog of an article by one Kameron Hurley that I came across on the the Passive Voice which I thought was worth forwarding because I am utterly guilty of this. The whole piece can be found on Locus Online here.

Telling people who don’t read science fiction and fantasy that I write it is still awkward. My mom used to tell people I wrote ‘‘novels like Stephen King,’’ even though I can’t watch a movie more supernaturally terrify­ing than Ghostbusters without enduring fierce nightmares, insomnia, and night sweats. I prefer corporeal, knife-wielding villains I can hit in the face.

But as a kid, I let it slide. I didn’t want the attention anyway. I felt incredibly embarrassed that I was writing about fake rebellions in made-up countries while my friends were studying to be architects. They were going to build real, adult things. I was going to write about trolls’ hair and dragons’ gold.

When I published my first novel 20 years later, I found myself faced with the same challenge: how do I talk about this book to people whose entire conception of science fiction and fantasy are built around Star Wars andThe Hobbit? How do I convince folks that stories about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal in 2155 are just as serious an endeavor as writing about the dis­solution of a marriage in Montreal 1955?

. . . .

Instead of talking about my books as serious (or at least fun) literature, I found myself fall­ing into the same self-conscious trap I had as a kid, when I muttered about how I was writing a story about an expedition to Venus where the volcanos erupted with flowers. I said stuff like: ‘‘Oh, you probably won’t like it. It’s pretty weird,’’ or ‘‘It’s not for everyone,’’ or ‘‘You’ll only like it if you read a lot of science fiction.’’

I anticipated their reactions, and pulled my punches.

One might think I said these things in a pure fit of shame. But as I got older and moved in geekier and geekier circles with folks who loved the same books I did, I recognized that some of this was not shame, but pride. There was some elitism in it of the, ‘‘People like me just get this and you won’t’’ variety.

That’s not pulling a punch. That’s punching yourself in the face.

. . . .

I started to wonder if I was limiting my potential readership in the way I was talking about what I wrote. These dual feelings of shame and pride were difficult to juggle. I recognized that my pride was fueled by the shame. Acknowledging to the world that I was wasting my time writing non-serious books about interstellar genocide and religious and political strife, I figured I could save face by letting folks know outside the genre that I was in on the joke, while secretly knowing that a few brave SF/F readers didn’t need me to use small words.

It is definitely one of those things in modern society that to enjoy, never mind produce science fiction, is something that should at the very least be kept under wraps. Yet it is absolutely not rational. Some of the biggest films and most ambitious TV series are now firmly in the SF&F bracket. It is no stretch of the imagination a fringe interest.

So write SF&F and stand tall*

* Although I have to admit when Mum read my work and I did wince at the thought of her reading across the bit with the succubus in the Job Offer.

LINKS

The Nameless War: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback

The Landfall Campaign: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback

The Job Offer: Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords

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Onward… to glory!

The old blogging has taken a bit of a hit of late and this one isn’t going to be very long or profound. Currently busy doing (among other things [so many things] ) a read through of the first draft of Book Three.

You might be wondering why I would need to read through my own book. Well book one took me at least three years to get to this stage, while the second one, about two years. That was just the first draft stage1). The reason it took so long was I had a bit of tendency to start tinkering with early chapters, trying to make them ‘perfect’.

This time round I decided to try something different. Basically the don’t look back approach. I have deliberately forced myself not to look back at the chapters already done2), instead I have concentrated on just moving forward. So after just over a year, I’m done; it also means that I haven’t seriously looked at the early chapters in ten plus months. Thus making the read through a bit of a journey into semi familiar ground.

Definitely some weak areas but then that’s first drafts for you. Anyway, onwards and upwards!

1) The first draft of Book One came out at about 65K words – the second about double that. One of my characters was left floating out in space (literally as well as metaphorically) covering what he was getting up to is where most of that word gain came from.

2) Apart from occasionally looking up minor character names.

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This is not the end

First Draft announcement

So this evening I have finished the first draft of Book Three. Which is to say I have got to a point where I have felt able to write what I believe are the two word that a writer always need to be aiming for: THE END

So what next?

Well between now and next October I need to:

  1. Write the second draft
  2. Edit
  3. Proofread
  4. Edit some more
  5. Get it edited
  6. Tweak
  7. Write the cover blurb
  8. Prepare the file for publication on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.
  9. Come up with cover art
  10. Prepare the paperback file
  11. Launch.

[whimper]

 

Well thank god I took the ‘lazy’ route of self publishing.

I think I’m going to take this even off though and drink that beer that been in my fringe since August.

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Writer Beware

A celebrated children’s author-turned-publisher has left the country, with a trail of unpaid debts and angry authors in her wake.

It started so promisingly and ended so horribly. Twenty months ago Jill Marshall was a local hero, albeit an adopted one. In 2011, Next magazine chose her as its Woman of the Year (arts and culture), an honour still listed on her profile on internet site LinkedIn.

Marshall is now back in England, having left behind a posse of irate and disillusioned authors, a trail of debt and no forwarding address. A “desperately-seeking-Jill” message by one of the authors on Marshall’s Facebook page has gone unanswered, attempts to contact her by email and via the two vice-presidents appointed to her company have proved equally fruitless…

The above quote is take from the New Zealand Herald and the full article can be found here. Now I’ve talked quite a bit about self publishing and traditional publishing but now I’d like to say a word about publishing in general.

For the would be writer I believe we have entered a golden age. With the advent of e-publishing the writer has never had more potential routes to the book buying public. But while there are readers out there, there are also sharks. The vanity press industry has of course a long and inglorious history and somewhat inexplicably still exists. But they aren’t the only ones a writer should beware of.

In the case of the article at the top I would guess1) that the individual in question went in with honest intentions but found herself in over her head. What can be taken from that is that someone can be honest but that doesn’t make them competent.

So what I my watch out for points? Well…

1) Money. Lets start with the sordid one. If a ‘publisher’ can make money without you making money, that’s not a warning sign, it’s all the reason you should need to walk away2).

2) Know what level you’re aiming for and develop the necessary skills. Self publishing mean developing certain computer skills3). Traditional publishing means entering into business relationships4). Either way do the research to know what you’re getting into – do not assume it-will-be-all-right-on-the-night.

3) Research anyone/organization you deal with. There are plenty of places on the net where other writers will have reported the dishonest and inept. Find them.

At the end of the day if you have written a book, then what you have is probably the fruits of several years of effort. You have likely poured yourself into it and regardless to what it is, how good it is or how you would like to put it out to the world you are proud of it. Don’t you want to stay proud? You don’t want in a few years time to be looking back on it with anger and bitterness because you or someone else screwed it up.

So take a step back, engage what in the world of accountancy is called Professional Scepticism to take a cold hard look at your options, then proceed.

Regards

 

1) Emphasis on the word ‘guess’

2) Obviously there are a couple of qualifiers to that statement. If you self pub editors and cover designers are going to be paid before you make anything. But the point is these individuals offer only one service. Anyone calling themselves a publisher is in theory offering the full range of services needed to bring the book to market. If they’re looking for you to pony up cash… well then you’re effectively taking all the financial risks of self publishing without the potential rewards or put more succinctly – a sucker.

3) Which are surprisingly limited. I am not a computer expert and my first port of call when the computer acts up is to swear at it. After that I generally muddle through.

4) It is especially important that once contracts are mentioned you damn well read it. If it is over your head get someone with the necessary know-how and training to read it. Sign without knowing what you’re signing is just asking to be ripped off.

The Nameless War, available on Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and paperback.

The Landfall Campaign, available on Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback.

The Job Offer, available on Kindle Smashwords and Kobo.

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GUEST BLOGGER: Catherine Brophy

Something different this time, a guest blog from fellow self publisher Catherine Brophy with a little personal tail of science fiction.

BUT IT’S ONLY FOR NERDS!

I suggested Science Fiction.   There was a sharp intake of breath and startled show of the whites of their eyes.  You’d think I’d suggested barbequing a baby!

Let me explain.   I’m in a book club.  It’s all women.   They’re all bright, they all work and they all love a challenge.   We have just one rule… no cooking.   We’re not one of those book clubs that cook elaborate meals get tiddly and only make passing reference to the book.   We don’t have the time for cooking elaborate meals. We’re all working women, we have lives, we love reading.  You can open a packet and pull a cork but that’s the max for hostessery.

Over the years we’ve read everything from classics to chick-lit, biography, history, science, travel, philosophy, you name it, we’ve read it… except science fiction.   That, it seemed was a challenge too far.
“That stuff is only for nerds,” they objected, “teenage boys and losers with no friends…”
“I’m married to one of those nerds.” I said.
They were taken aback.  They know my husband and like him… well duh… he’s intelligent and funny and thoughtful and warm.
“He loves science fiction” I ranted on, “ and fantasy/alternative universe/time travel… all that stuff and he also loves philosophy, classics, history, travel and regular fiction.   They’re not mutually exclusive you know.   Maybe you’ve been watching too much “Big Bang Theory”
They shuffled their feet and looked sheepish.
“But isn’t it mostly … well… rubbish?” they asked
“Have you read any?” I countered.
“Well no….”
“It’s like everything else there’s the good, there’s the bad and the horribly ugly.   The trick is to read the good stuff.”
“So suggest something.” They said.
Now I was in a quandary.   What should I suggest?   My friends were unaware of the infinite sub-categories within Sci Fi/fantasy genres so my choice was wide.   Too wide.   I thought of Frank Herbert’s Dune but reckoned it might be too long to start with.   I toyed with King Rat because I love China Mieville. (‘My job,” he said in an interview “ is not to try to give readers what they want but to try to make readers want what I give’, Fans often demand that their favourite writers churn out more of the same, this limits the writer and keeps them from writing their best.)  I flirted with The Terror by Dan Simmons.  But I finally choose Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs partly because I’d read it recently and partly because I thought it was an easy introduction to sci-fi fantasy genres… and oh yeah… because it’s beautifully written..

The book club read.   They loved it.   Some have converted and are asking for further recommendations.   The rest are at least willing to admit that it’s not entirely rubbish.   Success.
So now  that I’ve opened a few people’s minds why don’t some of you try my latest book… it’s a comedy and hey… everyone enjoys a laugh don’t they?

 

burning night

A COMEDY ABOUT MONEY, FAME AND THE CELTIC TIGER

The Celtic Tiger is in his prime and the Kerrigans are splashing the cash.  They have made it big time, so eat your heart out you small town snobs!  But Daddy’s-girl Kirsty wants International Celebrity and devotes herself to this dream. She crashes Madonna’s Christmas party but that doesn’t help.  She goes on Big Brother and causes a stir but doesn’t help either,  However, when a You Tube video of Kirsty goes viral, fame arrives with a bang.   But Tracey O’Hagan, a blast from a shady patch in the Kerrigan past, has appeared on the scene. She’s mad. She’s bad. And she’s definitely dangerous to know.
Burning Bright is told in the voices of Kerrigan family members and friends.   It’s funny. It’s believable. And it will definitely make you laugh.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Catherine Brophy is a writer, story-teller and broadcaster.   She writes film, T.V. and radio scripts and she also writes short stories. Her previous novels are The Liberation of Margaret Mc Cabe and Dark Paradise.   She lives a blameless life in Ireland but escapes whenever she can.   She’s been rescued by a circus troupe in Serbia, had breakfast with a Zambian chief, ate camel stew in the Sahara, and was kicked by a horse on the Mexican plain.

On kindle and paperback

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