The Givers Of Life

The Givers Of Life

Slightly late (as usual) the novella, The Risen Dead, has been added to the bibliography and its own page is live.

With The Risen Dead, a new series of linked novellas is launched under the overall heading of The Givers Of Life. To quote from the blurb:

When the end came for most of humanity, it was sudden, violent and unexpected. In the aftermath, the dead began to rise, reanimated by someone, or something, they knew only as The Givers Of Life. Their memories of life were gone, their identities erased. They were reborn for one reason only, to kill all survivors.

I describe them as a series of linked novellas because, although they will be set in the same apocalyptic world, with some returning characters and criss-crossing of storylines, they will not be direct sequels to each other.

The exact number of novellas in the series is currently fluid. However, this is not an open-ended series, there will be a definite conclusion. If humanity is to survive, The Givers Of Life must be unmasked, and the dead sent back to their graves!

Before I finish, a brief note about the cover.

As you may have noticed from many of my previous books, my favourite and preferred cover artist is the very talented artist and photographer, Steve Upham. Unfortunately, his current workload meant he was not available for this book and so, for better or worse, I decided to paint my own cover! The painting was done in acrylics, with the lettering added later via photoshop. It may not be as stunning as a Steve Upham original, but I hope you will feel, as I do, that it is suitable for the novella. No decision has yet been made as to whether the other novellas in the series will have covers painted by myself. This is my first painted cover and I need to wait and see if there’s any reaction (good or bad), and whether my confidence in attempting cover art can grow.

If you should choose to read the book, I hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, you might post a review on Amazon.

Any comments on anything covered in this post, just add them below.

Thank you for reading.

Promotions and widening the field

Promotions and widening the field

Some of you may have already seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere saying that my latest book, The Frihet Rebellion, is currently FREE for the kindle on Amazon. I set the promotion to coincide with my birthday (yesterday, 29th March) and to last until the end of March (tomorrow). So there is (hopefully) little excuse not to download the book, even if you don’t intend to immediately read it. Hopefully, with it sitting on your kindle, you may be tempted at some point to give it a try. I hope so. That’s my devious plan anyway 🙂

If you do take advantage of this promotion, and you actually read the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Reviews are important and impact who else might buy the book in the future. In other words, reviews can mean future income for the writer (me) as well as a wider readership. Even if you don’t like the book, review it! I’d rather have honest bad reviews than none. I like honesty in reviews (and elsewhere for that matter).

On the subject of wider readership, those of you who are writers, and have self published through Amazon, will know about KDP and how, in order to run something like this free promotion, you need to be exclusively tied to Amazon. That’s ok, for a short time, and as a way of running something like this promotion. But I haven’t signed up for automatic renewal, because, once this current session of KDP runs out, towards the end of May, I intend to publish The Frihet Rebellion on Smashwords as well.

The advantage of going with Smashwords is that, not only will my book still be available from Amazon, but it will also become available in various other formats (including epub, pdf etc.) and distributed to sites such as Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and many more, with new ones being added quite regularly. This opens up a huge potential audience for my book, way beyond just Amazon.

At the end of the day, I would like my stories to be read by as many people as possible and, I hope, enjoyed by the majority of them. It’s always an amazing feeling to get good feedback from a reader, either through a review or personally, via email or messaging. It’s wonderful to know your work is appreciated and enjoyed by others. I write because I have stories I want to tell, but it’s an extra boost and added incentive to know there are others following those stories.

So, that’s where we are at the moment. The Frihet Rebellion is free on the kindle for today and tomorrow and, in June, anyone who wants to read it on another ebook reader or in a format other than mobi (kindle), will be able to do so via Smashwords.

Thank you for reading.

Coincidence?

Can this really be a coincidence, or is my brain doing things behind my back far cleverer than it usually does out front (if you see what I mean)? Let me explain.

I have already told in a previous post (The story behind The Frihet Rebellion) how my latest novel is based on a story I originally wrote way back in 1975. In that original, the rebellious planet was called Thalas. When I came to rewrite it, I felt that name was far too close to Doctor Who (I was a fan back then, after all – still am) and needed changing. Playing “name the planet” in my head, throwing largely nonsense words and sounds around, I came up with the name Frihet. As far as I was aware, it was a word I just made up because it sounded right.

Jump forward to publication, and I get a couple of people asking me why I chose to use a Swedish word in the title. So, a quick Google shows that ‘frihet’ is, indeed, a Swedish word, and that it translates as ‘freedom’!

As far as I’m aware, I have never heard the word before, and I certainly don’t speak Swedish, so how did I just come up with it when looking for a planet name? Especially when it turns out to be just about perfect?

I have to presume that, somewhere in my subconscious, I was aware of this word… although I’ve no idea where from. Otherwise, it’s an amazing coincidence, which is also possible but, I feel, less likely. Either way, no one was more surprised than me that my rebellious, freedom-fighting world was named after the Swedish word for freedom. I can only presume that the early colonists were Swedish in origin. At least that explanation makes sense!

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The story behind The Frihet Rebellion

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The Frihet Rebellion is my first book release of 2017 (and the first for over a year!). The story behind it, however, starts a long time ago, but still in this galaxy (sorry).

Way back in 1975 (when I was just 16) I wrote a short book called Space Revolution. A simple story of a nasty Earth government, a heroic alien and human aboard a superior alien craft, and a distant, rebellious princess. This was two years before the release of Star Wars, so stop pointing those fingers. Its real influence was comic books, the Martian and Venus tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs, pulp sci fi in general and the imagination of a 16 year old boy (Sexy teenage princess? Sure, why not?).

Paper was cut down to size and I typed the story out (on a ribbon rapidly losing ink). My older brother Colin (who had more experience of this and was – and is – much more of a perfectionist than me) agreed to glue the book together, trim the pages to a neat edge AND produce an amazing wrap-around cover, created with pen and poster paints. Here’s the result (I still have it, and it still holds together perfectly).

space-revolution

In 2015 I decided to resurrect Space Revolution and rewrite it, start to finish. The basic story elements remained, but characters and incidents were fleshed out and changes made to fit with my older and, possibly, more mature outlook. The result was The Frihet Rebellion which, I hope, retains the excitement, fast movement and pulp nature of the original.

When it came to the cover design, I knew I had to have that ship from the original cover. It just conjured the flavour of the story so well. So, with a little photoshopping, I added a fresh new star field to the background, the new title and there it was – I think, the perfect cover for The Frihet Rebellion.

As with everything I write, I am less concerned with being seen as a “good writer” and more with being a “good storyteller”. This story has been with me a long time. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing, and rewriting, it.

The ebook is currently available for pre-order and will be released on 1st March 2017. The paperback is currently going through review and will also be available then, if not before.

You can pre-order on Amazon now.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

First post of 2017

I know that, obviously, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my first post of 2017… well wait no longer. This is it! (pauses to allow tumbleweed to blow across scene in total silence).

One of the reasons for the delay is simply that there’s not much different going on than at the end of 2016. But, that having been said, let’s lay out what’s ahead for the first months (at least) of 2017.

My current work in progress is The Offspring, the final book in The Szuiltan Trilogy. While sales and response to the first two books has not exactly been overwhelming, I have a story to finish telling so I’m going to tell it! If I was writing to make money, I’d have given up a long time ago. My reasons for writing go far deeper than that.

All drafts of the two novels, Eyes Of The Raven and The Demon Guardian are finished and both are now looking for homes. More news on this as I have it. Keep your fingers (and everything else) crossed.

I have still to make a final decision on whether to self publish The Risen(Book #1 in The Givers Of Life). As it’s a novella I do have that option (see earlier posts and interviews about my children’s despotic ruling on my self publishing activities) but I also keep edging towards the idea of shopping it around. The problem, as I see it, is that, #1, it’s a zombie tale, and there’s a surprising number of publishers (including ones I’ve previously worked with) who won’t even look at anything to do with zombies, and, #2, it’s the first novella in a series that’s not yet written. That’s a lot for a publisher to take on from a small-time author like me.

The situation is similar with Vampire Worms, although as it’s a short story I have put it out there and am currently awaiting a decision. What makes it similar is that, although it is self contained, it certainly has the possibility of being the first in a series. If I do eventually decide to go down that route, and it’s not already been published by that time, I may well look, again, to self publishing for very much the same reasons as with The Risen, although in this case vampires, rather than zombies (they’re not actually vampires as such… you’d need to read the story).

The Offspring marks a return to science fiction, after pretty much a whole year of writing horror. Should I decide to remain in this genre following The Offspring, I do have several ideas with beginnings and basic stories sketched out to choose from. I also have a completed pulp novel, The Frihet Rebellion, to shop around. This was held back almost 18 months by a publisher who, after all that time, decided to reject it, albeit with some positive and nice comments along the way. Now that’s over, I can get on with approaching other publishers and hope to generate some interest. News as it happens, as always.

After releasing the complete novel, A World Of Assassins, for free on Wattpad last year, I will be looking at possibly doing something similar this year. Nothing concrete yet, and I’m partly waiting to see the kind of response A World Of Assassins gets, but it’s a different way of getting some of my older work out there – and possibly newer stuff too. If people enjoy it, they might decide to read more of my work.

In news other than writing – The 1850 Project (the musical collaboration between my son, Jonathan, and myself) remains on hiatus due mainly to recording and financial issues. There’s also an issue with increasing arthritis in my fingers, making prolonged playing of the guitar stupidly painful. Nevertheless, we have songs, we have ideas, and we will return! Talking of songs, I have a large back catalogue of poorly recorded stuff which I would really like to cherry pick from and re-record in good quality, before I’m unable to play anymore. We already have demos of some of the those, and they could be released either under The 1850 Project or as solo projects – that depends on whether Jonathan likes them or not!

After returning to painting at the end of 2016, I am working on a second picture. I’m not rushing these, there’s no need, and tend to do painting in small bursts as a way of relaxing from other things, but I intend to continue precisely because I do find it relaxing and, other than Cathy constantly telling me how she would do it, no pressure.

My real job, of course, is looking after my daughter (whose myriad of conditions and issues are not for this post) but I still have time for creative pursuits – and both things are equally satisfying, in different ways. Both can also lead to serious lack of sleep.

So, that’s it. Hopefully there will be plenty of writing, music and painting ahead for me. Most of all, however, I hope my daughter gets the therapy she needs (we’ve been waiting a long time) and that she improves to the point where she can have a life outside of the safe zone of her bedroom.

Whatever else happens (and despite horrors such as Trump, Brexit, and more Conservative destruction of our society) it has to be better than 2016, doesn’t it? Come on 2017, surely you can manage that!

2016 – Not The Best Of Years

So, 2106 is coming to an end – and good riddance too. It has not been a great year for all sorts of reasons. For a start, we lost a lot of great performers across the arts – people like Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Greg Lake, Prince and too many others. Hollywood continues to grind out the retreads and remakes (although Deadpool was good). In politics we had the twin disasters of Brexit and Donald Trump. Far too many wars and acts of terrorism continue to plague the world in general. Religion and political ideology continue to be used as justification for hate, prejudice and bigotry. I could go on (really, I could!), but enough is enough.

Not everything was bad. There was some great music released (including albums from Dream Theater, Babymetal, Ana Popovic, Roxette, The Monkeys, Epica and Green Day), small publishers continued to release the books that the traditional publishers are too afraid to, there were a few good tv shows starting or continuing (The Good Place, No Tomorrow, People Of Earth, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Crazyhead, Frequency, Sweet Vicious, Lucifer) among the almost overwhelming mass of mediocre and just plain bad, and my wife finally dumped her too stressful job for an altogether pleasanter one.

But the main reason for this blog is to look at what I’ve been up to this year, in terms of writing anyway.

I have had no books published in 2016. This is a depressing but true statistic. However, this does not mean I’ve been doing nothing.

My short stories Assassin On The Seventy-Fourth Floor (Crimson Streets), The Light Ship (Electric Spec) and Young At Heart (reprint in Red Fez) made an appearance, and two more (Castle Ruins and The Great Prophecy) have been accepted but not yet released. I also had a story, Locusts – The Return, included in a special tribute book for Guy N Smith (Hell Of A Guy) which is not on general sale. Permission has been given for the story to appear elsewhere, but I haven’t decided whether I want to do that just yet.

I wrote a novelette (Vampire Worms), a novel (Eyes Of The Raven) and am currently finishing off the final draft of another novel that still doesn’t have a title! And as soon as this draft is done, I’m finally starting on the third and final novel in The Szuiltan Trilogy, The Offspring.

In terms of works that are out there waiting for responses, I have three short stories, a novelette, a novella, and two novels. This is not a lot compared to some writers, but it’s pretty good for me.

The other thing I’ve done in writing is sign up (again) to Wattpad, and this time I’m determined to make use of it. There are already several short stories, the whole of The Ant Man, and samples of currently unpublished work up there. My main project on it is to, gradually, put the whole of my science fiction thriller novel A World Of Assassins on there. Everything is free to read, and it seems a good place to spread the word 🙂

As far as my other creative outlets are concerned…

The 1850 Project (the collaboration between my son and me) is far from dead, it’s just resting. Mainly because our home studio (or Jonathan’s bedroom as it’s sometimes known) is in complete disarray, and we can’t afford the studio time we would need in our regular place (Whitby Studios) or anywhere else at the moment.

Art. It’s a very long time since I attempted any serious drawing or painting, but my wife was determined to get me to paint something for her. It’s taken her a long time, but she finally won, and I have taken up the brush and the acrylics again, after many years, to produce the painting you see below, which she seems to like (thankfully). I suspect that, now that I’ve started, I will probably continue in 2017. It was fun and quite relaxing to do.

painting-2016

That’s about it. I won’t be sorry to see 2016 go, and can only hope that 2017 will be a better year for all of us. The one thing I can promise is that I’ll continue to write, successfully or otherwise. I hope some of you will continue to read, too.

Thank you for reading.

Free Serialisation Of A Novel

A few weeks back I began a process of putting various complete older short stories/novelettes, and excerpts from new, currently unpublished novellas and novels, on Wattpad, where people can read them for free.

Last week (or was it earlier this week? I forget!) I began a new project on there: the serialisation of one of my older novels – the science fiction thriller A World Of Assassins (click here for full info on the book). So far I have uploaded four chapters and, although there is no regular schedule, I will continue uploading chapters on the basis of “several a week” until the full work is there. For free.

I want to see how this works, and if it generates any interest. If it does, I may consider doing the same with other self-published novels and, perhaps, even a work in progress (second draft at least… I wouldn’t want to inflict a first draft on anyone!). I know others have done similar things with some success, over time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Click the cover image below to go to Wattpad and get started.

Thank you for reading.

A World Of Assassins