2015: Looking back, then forward

Happy New Year, folks. How was your 2015? I think I can safely say that mine was definitely one of the more eventful years in my life.

2015 and things that have been

So, looking back at this year, was there possibly anything that kept me a little too busy to get as much writing done as I would have liked?

Oh yes, my wife going through a kidney transplant. That was it.

It has to be said my family started off 2015 on a bit of a stressful note. On February 9th my wife went through a transplant to receive a kidney from my sister. Understandably, this took all my focus and energy for quite a while. Between the build up, preparations, the stress of the day of the operation itself, visiting them both in hospital and then looking after Frankie during the recovery period, I think I can say the first 3 months of the year were a write off, writing wise.

And then this autumn I’ve had a massive project at the day job that completely absorbed all my mental energy. I’m not complaining as such. I like my day job, and bigger projects means more responsibility means more chance of advancement. But between working through lunch breaks and coming home exhausted I essentially lost another couple of months of writing time.

So I think I can say I lost at least five months of 2015 for writing. That’s not to say I didn’t get anything done in that time. It’s just that I had other things on my mind that had to take precedence.

One thing I did get done was producing the paperback edition of The Serpent’s Eye. Like the e-book, putting this together turned out to be one hell of a learning curve, but I’m happy at how it turned out. Especially as I had very little idea what I was doing. There are a couple of small things I would like to tweak, but they’re tiny in the overall scheme of things. But my designer tells me there are a couple of little things she can see now it’s a physical book she would like to fix, so there may be an updated version sometime in the future if we get around it it. And at the moment that’s a big if, as there are plenty of more important things to get done first.

Short-story wise, it wasn’t a prolific year. The thing with so much else going on simply did not have the time to work on any independent projects. I had to prioritise. Annoyingly, the anthology with which I was involved, with Thomas Hill Publishing, fell through, so that story is now looking for a new home. However I was included in Verto Publishing’s Halloween Celebration. Those of you who caught it were able to read the first story in The Æther Collection, complete with a wonderful illustration from P. Emerson Williams. It’s still up, so head over if you want to check it out.

The rest of the year got taken up by working on The Æther Collection. 

And I feel I do have to mention that this year we lost possibly one of the greatest English writers, and the man who got me into reading; Sir Terry Pratchett. I’ve written about my feelings on his passing here, so I won’t go into them again. But it’s sad that 2016 will be the first year since I was born that there won’t be a new Discworld novel to look forward to.

Terry&Death

I will keep you all updated on my sister’s campaign/project to get a permanent statue of Sir Terry erected in Salisbury. I think we can definitely call it a project now as everyone involved seems onboard. Watch this space for updates.

2016, and things that are to come

So the big project for this year is, of course, completing The Æther Collection. At the start of last year I had hoped to get this done for Christmas, but obviously with everything going on it has been pushed back. I do have the first full draft completed and with my Alpha Readers (you can read more on that here) and should hopefully have notes to begin redrafting by the end of January. I’m not sure how many more drafts it’s going to need, but my gut is telling me a least four more; one from readers notes, another just from myself, a second round of notes, then a final polish and copyedit.

The Æther Collection - 4th Draft

Of course, now I’ve said this, it will take far longer. At this point I’m hoping for a June release at the latest. I want to have time to get it out to agents and small press publishers, but I will put this out myself if this process takes too long. June would be two years since the original release of The Serpent’s Eye, which would be nice timing. But of course I don’t want to rush anything. Watch this space for more updates.

Outside of this main project I do have other plans. I would like to get a couple more short stories done this year and get them into anthologies. I have one I’m finally getting to finish at the moment, and at least two more in early draft stages, waiting for their turn. Possibly these will be palette cleanser projects between drafts of The Æther Collection. I would really like to get these done early in the year and start submitting them, but we’ll see. The Æther Collection has to take priority.

I’m also beginning to get annoyingly excited about my next big project. It’s a haunted house story, filtered through the views of an adolescent girl trying to fight to discover her place in the world while insisting that she shouldn’t have to fight for it. Over the last couple of months various ideas have begun to slip into my mind, fleshing out the main concept and I’m ready to start writing. This is great, but not quite so much when I need to get the previous project completed before I can get started. But hopefully I’ll have a least a first draft of this done by this time next year.

I’ve had a great little break over Christmas. I’ve kept away from the keyboard almost completely to allow my brain to rest. Now I’m itching to get back to work.

See you all in 2016.

boot-inn-new-year

The perfect gift for the horror fan in your life

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the horror fan in your life? Or just looking for something to read over the holiday season?

Well look no further. The Serpent’s Eye by Thomas H. Brand is available now from CreateSpace, Amazon, and iTunes in paperback and e-book editions.

facebook cover image

When George Sandings, a young up-and-coming solicitor, is sent to Buenos Aires to deal with the estate of the late Earl Edgar Leer, the infamous explorer and hedonist, he sees it as an opportunity to prove himself to his employers and advance his career. He has just a month to uncover what he can so that the Leer family might be able to put their disgraced son’s memory behind them.

However, as he delves deeper and deeper into the Earl’s dark and immoral life he discovers that not everything is as natural as it should be. Soon he begins to realise that something from the Earl’s life, some power that should have been lost and forgotten, is haunting him. Something that seems to be entwining itself in George’s mind. 

Is this spectre real? Or is this simply some earthly plot to undermine him? As George tries to make sense of what is happening to him, he must decide whether the only rational answer is the irrational.

Judging a book by its cover

“Never judge a book by its cover”.

What a great philosophy to to live your life by. It’s practically the first lesson in How To Live A Fair and Interesting Life 101. As a metaphor for looking beyond stereotypes and not taking people at face value and taking the time to look deeper it can’t really be faulted.

But what if we’re talking about literally judging an actual book?

Quality of writing is not, unfortunately, the only thing an author has to think about when publishing their work. For all that we want our work to speak for itself people aren’t going to read something if they don’t know it exists, and that’s not going to happen without publicity and marketing.

I will be the first to admit that these areas are not my forte. I have never been a natural promotor of my own work. But, just like anyone looking at self publishing, it’s something I’ve had to teach myself. The most obvious way has been to get involved with all the common methods of promotion, all the websites and online writer groups, to see what everyone else is doing. And one of the main reasons that this is a good way to teach yourself self-promotion is because after a while you really start to see all the things that other people are doing wrong.

I’m far from an expert, when you spend enough time looking into something you start to see the same mistakes over and over again until you recognise them without trying. And if I can notice them – a random guy just looking around the market – I can only imagine how often agents and publishers have to wade through them.

I’ve come to recognise three or four basic mistakes that a lot of authors out there are making over and over again. And possibly the worst of these mistakes – because it is the most obvious and impossible to ignore – is using a terrible cover.

Your book’s cover is the final line that the reader must cross before making the decision whether or not to put in the time/effort/money on your book. They might not care whether it’s the latest Hugo Award winner best seller or an impulse buy from an unknown author, but they need to believe that the author cared enough about it to care what it looked like.

We’ve all heard the old adage “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. It’s the same with book covers. Traditional publishing houses have promotion and marketing teams to do this side of things. If you want to be taken seriously you need to match that quality despite not having the resources.

Not everyone is going to be able to get a professional designer to create a cover, of course, but there are ways around that. What you can’t do is just accept any old thing and slap it on your manuscript. I’ve seen covers that look like they were put together in MS Paint. Covers that look like someone cut images out of a magazine, stuck them onto a piece of A4 and scanned them into a computer. Covers that look like the writer’s parents forced them use something their 12 year old cousin made in art class. Covers that, to sum this up, just plain look bad.

Self publishing is not an easy path to success. We all know this by now. The hard fact is there is still an entrenched prejudice that self-publishing is a path for writers who aren’t good enough to get a traditional contract. It is also a fact that there’s a lot of evidence to back up this attitude. There is so much terrible, terrible work put online by lazy writers who don’t seem to think that eighth, seventh, or sometimes even second drafts are a necessity. If you want to rise up from the dross that is out there, you need to make your book as indistinguishable from a professional publication as possible.

So what are my recommendations?

 

Look at what resources you have (and be honest with them)

Do you know someone who can create a high quality cover for you? Someone who at least has some design experience? It’s quite possible that they might be willing help you, if you ask nicely.

But make sure it’s someone you’re prepared to be honest with. The problem with a favour is you can feel uncomfortable about turning it down. This is your work, and you cannot allow yourself to feel obligated to please someone else with the final product. That’s your name on the cover. If the final product is poor quality it’s your reputation and your interests that are going to suffer.

If you don’t think you could tell someone that you don’t like their work then don’t ask them for help.

Invest in your own work

If you don’t have someone able and willing to help for free, spend some money.

It doesn’t have to be too expensive. There are a lot of aspiring artists and designers looking for the opportunity get their work out there, just like you. Some might even be willing to work for free (although see my previous point about that). There are even people who have seen this niche and sell pre-made covers to those authors who want something quick and easy.

Remember, if you are not prepared to invest a little of your own money in your work, why should a reader or a publisher?

Keep it simple (Not the face)

If in doubt, keep your cover as simple as possible.

Don’t try to depict scenes from the book or intricate landscapes. If you’re on a budget or forced to do things yourself, the simpler you can keep it the better it will be. Text on a plain background, with maybe a clean, simple logo or image. It’s classic, and the easiest cover to pull off. 

And this might be a personal choice, but avoid character portraits like the plague. Especially if you’re not a professional. Stock photos always look fake, and poorly photoshopped figures even more so. And unless you can draw really well, any attempt at a portrait of a human is going to slam your cover straight down into the Uncanny Valley.

 

So what choices did I make? As it turns out I’m lucky enough that I have a sister who is a graphic designer. At the point where I was finishing The Serpent’s Eye and needed a cover, she was actually in the middle of completing her Masters Degree in Graphic Design. This meant I had a family member who (a) had the skill and talent to create a professional quality image, and (b) who I was more than willing to argue with if I didn’t like the result.

If I hadn’t had this option? I would have researched some graphic designers and looked to commission one.

The last thing I would ever have attempted would be to create my own cover.

And so if any of you are looking for a decent cover artist head over to www.emilybranddesigns.com. Her contact details are on the site, and she’ll be more than happy to discuss what you’re looking for. I’m told she has very reasonable prices for non-family. I can vouch that you’ll get quality work.

The Serpent’s Eye – Paperback Out Now!

So if you take a wander down to Amazon, you can now get your hands on the paperback version of The Serpent’s Eye. 

TSE IMage

It’s taken me a little while to get the physical copy of the book done, since the original e-book came out back in the summer. I would like to thank everyone who has already downloaded and given it a read. Getting so much honest positive feedback helped me move forward with my work and getting this final version out.

You can find it on Amazon (UK and US), or directly from the CreateSpace store.

There have been a few changes made since the original came out. The plot and the story are the same, I’ve just cleaned up a few typos that slipped through and made a couple of tweaks to real life fact that have been spotted in the text. (In retrospect I should have got my in-laws – who grew up in Buenos Aires – to check those sections before publishing, but it’s all fixed now.)

I have also updated the e-book version, so those of you who have already downloaded it should – if I understand how the platform works correctly – receive an automatic update. (But of course the only way to be safe will be to buy a physical copy)

One thing I have not been able to work out yet is how to combine both versions of the book on Amazon. Currently if you search on Amazon you get two different entries, one for the e-book and one for the paperback. I’m trying to figure out how to combine them so things like reviews show for both. It’s not a major sticking point in the release, but I would like to get this tidy. If any of you out there know a little more about how Amazon works, please drop me a comment to tell me.

I’m also working on getting it up onto the iTunes store, but currently it doesn’t want to play. Apparently my cover image is either far too big or slightly too small. I’ll keep you all updated on this epic battle as it progresses.

EDIT – That’s all done now, and can be found here.

 

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s helped me get this put together; those who’s have an active part in proof reading and giving advise, and those who’ve downloaded it already, read it and given me their opinions. It’s all helped push me through the last few stages to get this done. I love writing, but have discovered that I do not have the same passion or knowhow for layout or designing. Trial and error is all well and good, but it doesn’t half take up a lot of your time.

Anyway, enough from me. Go get yourself your very own copy of The Serpent’s Eye right now.

2014: Looking back, then forward

So 2015 is almost upon us. It’s been an interesting year, with lots of things moving forward in my career. And in the spirit of the New Year I thought I would have a look back at where I was a year ago and what I have planned in the future.

So you know, a New Years update. Groundbreaking, I know.

2014 and things that have been

So at the beginning of the year I was unemployed, and so therefore in the wonderful position of being able to write full time. At this point I was focusing on two things; working on building up The Æther Collection and the final polish of The Serpent’s Eye. I also had a couple of short stories out into the submissions cloud, but so far I had nothing published.

The Serpent’s Eye became available to download as an ebook in July. This is my first published work, and I’m very please with how it has turned out. I’ve had some great feed back, some from friends I trust to be honest with me, and some from total strangers which in a way is better that they’re not going to care one bit about my feelings.

I have discovered that putting together and self publishing an e-book is not a simple process. At least, not if you want it to be any good. You can write the best story in the world, but if you give it crappy production values people are never going to give it a chance. I’ve been very lucky that I have a sister who is an artist and designer, meaning I was able to get an excellent cover done for free. But even with that I had to teach myself how to actually format and produce all the necessary files and upload them correctly to the necessary websites. Honestly, it took me several evenings to get everything right on this before it could go up.

The Æther Collection slowed down a lot this year. Mainly this was due to my getting a full time job and my writing time being slashed. I have to really prioritise my projects at the moment, and unfortunately this has had to take a back seat. Still I’ve managed to get a couple of stories up, and I have at least two more almost finished.

Part of what has taken up my time are other short stories. I’ve been trying to get my work out into the world, and one of the main routes is getting my short stories into anthologies. This year I have finally managed to reach this goal, with my story ‘Nice, or Naughty’ being included in Dark Holidays. I have also had another story, ‘Hielora Road’, accepted in a new horror anthology from Thomas Hill Press which will be coming out in the New Year.

2015, and things that are to come

I have always planned to release The Serpent’s Eye as a physical book, but it has taken me some time to get around to finalising this. I had originally intended to get it out for Christmas, but as it was taking me more time that I planned I decided not to rush it. Deciding on a printing service and making sure all the layout is perfect is very time consuming for someone who has never done this before. I’ve been working my way along the learning curve, and am now doing one last proof read while I wait for my sister to complete the full cover art.

I was always aware that with an ebook I could always fix any errors that came up, but with a printed book I can never make changes if something slips through. I want this to look as professional as possible, and as much as I put effort in for the presentation of the ebook, but I’m being doubly careful. I am fully aware I am not the greatest proofreader of my own work. I know I’m going to miss some stupid mistake, but I’m doing my best to make sure it’s not so glaring and obvious that it ruins the whole thing.

At the moment I’m looking at a February release date, but I don’t want to commit to a time frame for fear of hubris. Having never done this before I have no idea how long it will take or what delays there might be.

Once that is done, my main project for 2015 will be completing the Æther Collection. This has been unavoidably on the back-burner for a while, but I want to get it completed and out to buy by the end of the year at the latest.

The main question I am trying to answer right now is how long do I want to make it. I currently have 9 stories written, and 1 more ready in my head for a first draft. That gives me 10 stories coming in around around 55,000 words. Ideally I would like a bit of a longer word count and a couple more stories. The problem is that so far stories have simply been added to the collection as they have come to me. I’ve had no real plan on how many there will be once it is completed.

So once of my tasks will be sitting down and having a long think about this. I need to decide if there are any more stories to be told in this collection, then I need to decide on what order to put them in. There is obviously the choice of chronological order, but I’m not yet convinced that this will be the best way. I have a feeling there is a thematic way to arrange them. I just need to find it.

One other thing is that I don’t think I will be publishing them online once completed anymore. As much as I want you all to read them, the original object of having them available up on my site was to have something up there for visitors to look at and comment back to me on. But now that is less of a priority as people can find my work elsewhere. I may actually take some of them down. They still need polishing, and I would like for at least some of the collection to be new to the reader. So expect some of them to disappear over the next couple of months so I can work on them in peace.

I also still fully intend to produce more one off short stories for publication. I have several in my mind that I really want to get done and a couple actually half written. The problem at the moment is time. With a real life job and real life family issues taking up a lot of my time, writing it limited. Short stories are a great palette cleanser between big projects, and also great fun in their own right, but often I have to leave them simmering in the background for longer than I would like. I then even when they are finished it can take time for them to get accepted into collections, and then however long for that collection to come out.

So that is the coming year. Hopefully 2015 will show an increase in my workload and publicity. I know that the next stage in my writing career involves an increase in marketing, but this is something way out of my comfort zone. I have never been any good at promoting myself, so it’s going to be an interesting journey trying to make it happen.

But it’s definitely going to be fun.

See you all in 2015.

The selection of gender

How do you go about choosing a character’s gender? Is it the same as something like their name, height, or hair colour and a just a choice for the writer to make? Or it is more intrinsically linked with the nature of a particular story?

One of the many points of discussion that has sprung up in the current cultural debate about gender politics in society has been how there are so few “strong female characters” in our media. I’m not going to go into detail about the deeper issues here. There has been plenty written and discussed online already – to varying degrees of vitriol – but I want to address this particular issue that is unavoidably interwoven with any creative media. Like it or not we come from a traditionally patriarchal society, and thusly our storytelling traditions have been very much filtered through that ideology; men are the protagonists in life, with women at best secondary or at worst totally sidelined. As Joss Whedon famously pointed out, until we reach the point where strong female characters are no longer highlighted as different from the norm we will remain in an unbalanced media.

There are many reasons for this. Some of it is, of course, straightforward misogyny. The recent #GamerGate scandal has highlighted how much of that lingers around certain types of people. But as vocal as this segment can be it is not one that has an overtly active role in the real media. And yes, while I understand that many people have been seen to pander to this demographic I refuse to believe that entire industries have purposely developed around this kind of mindset.

No, the larger part of this issue has been blindness. Time and time against I have read interviews with men in the media who have told the same tale; unique to them but telling the same story where they were made to suddenly realise they had been perpetuating the gender divide without even realising it. They had never considered themselves as marginalising women. They were merely part of an established system that did so on such an ingrained level they could not see it for the trees.

This issue is an endemic one, but one that is slowly being swept aside. Mainly due to the actions of a few very strong and impressive role-models who have made a stand rather than allow themselves to work within a broken system, facing the far too often vitriolic nature of certain areas of “internet culture”. I honestly feel that today writers and media creators are far more aware of gender in their work than in any time in recent history. The issue is not going to fixed overnight, no social injustice ever is, but it has been set on the right path.

So, as a writer, how much do you need to worry about this? How much do you need to actively plan your work to help bridge the divide when it comes to female characters?

When I was nearing the end of The Serpent’s Eye I began to worry. I realised that I had written a book that hit all the traditional tropes of the old system without thinking; I had one single male protagonist, and all the female characters were viewed through the filter of his viewpoint. Did that mean I had written a bad story? Did it mean I was one of the many people perpetuating the gender imbalance through not paying attention?

No, I don’t think I was. Not everything needs to pass the Bechdel test. More things need to of course – in fact most things should – but the important question here was could I justify my choices for the good of the story?

And yes, I think I can. The story I had come up with involved somebody traveling aboard to deal with a serious of legal issues for a prominent family in the nineteenth century. Would there have been any female lawyers at that time? And if so would they be hired for such a job by an ancient and traditional noble family? For all the thousands of ways I could have created a female protagonist and worked them into the story, this would not have worked for the level of simple realism I wanted to achieve.

I know there are stories that can be told where the gender of the characters will not have one single effect on the plot. It is just that I believe these are as rare a chickens teeth.

The simple fact is, as much as we may not realise it, interpretation of gender plays a massive part in our lives. Everyday we are making thousands of snap judgements about the people we pass in the street based on age, appearance, clothing, attitude and hundreds of other tiny unnoticeable triggers. We don’t even notice we are doing it until we think about it. It is impossible to get to know someone without spending time learning who they are, and so our minds learn shortcuts based on what we can take in quickly so we can make a snap judgement of how they might act based on our previous experiences. These shortcuts are filtered and developed through the societal norms of a culture with thousands of years of momentum. We may try to be gender-blind, or colour-blind, or any kind of prejudice-blind, but it is simply not psychologically possible. It can take years to get to know someone personally, and until then, and even after, all our thoughts and interactions with them will be interpreted using the preconceived ideas that are simply so ingrained into who we are that we don’t realise they exist.

A good writer cannot simply spell out everything about a character, and so has to make use of their reader’s prejudices and assumptions to fill in the blanks. This is a tool that needs to be carefully used. Whether you want the reader to fill in the blanks in a character’s background, or to throw the reader by playing with their assumptions, the first stage is understanding how a reader will initially flesh out the character in their first scene.

These subconscious interpretations can have a profound effect on a story. The writer Brandon Sanderson has said how in earlier drafts of the first Mistborn novel the main character, Vin, was originally a boy. However he felt the tone of the story wasn’t sitting right but he couldn’t put his finger on why. Then he decided to change Vin to a girl and everything fell into place. The story needed a female protagonist, as the character dynamics simply were not working otherwise.

In Nice or Naughty – <shamelessplug> Available to read now in Dark Holidays, an anthology from Dark Skull Publications </shamelessplug> – the protagonist is a young girl with a little brother. Had I swapped the genders around it would not have altered the plot in any way, but the feel of the story and the reader’s relationship with the character would have changed significantly. Most people will have a very different preconception of a young girl’s attitudes towards her little brother than those of a young boy towards his little sister. You never meet the brother in person, he is only discussed, but that relationship is vital to the story and I can’t afford to bore the reader with a page and a half spent spelling out their relationship. Rather than do that I used what I feel will be the reader’s preconceptions and then subtly nudge them at the correct points to give the impression of the children’s relationship.

Now I don’t believe for a moment that, at this stage of my career, my work is going to have any affect in the greater debate on this issue, but also I don’t want to be seen as simply one more white male writer creating white male characters. What I do want is to create stories with a variety of characters and types, and this will sometimes mean developing a story about the character. Sometimes I will have to create male characters, if the story requires it, but at least I am aware that this is not the only option. I know that I need to develop stories to fit around female characters – and in the greater scheme of things also characters of different races and cultures – rather than let my stories grow around lazy writing. To make sure I push myself as a writer.

In the end my choice was not one of which gender I felt like writing, but which gender better fit the character and story.

Halloween Horror Arcane Bundle

“The Serpent’s Eye” has been included as part of Arcane Bundle’s Halloween Horror Bundle.

Pay want to want and get a download of 5 DRM-free ebooks. Pay at least $7 and get and extra two books. And if you send a tweet sharing the collection you can get “The Serpent’s Eye” included for absolutely free.

It’s a great deal. I’ve always been a fan of Bundles like this, and I’ve got some great books for very little this way. And it’s amazing to have my book included in this collection.

So if you want some stories to keep you entertained over Halloween, head over to the Arcane Bundle site and pick them up now.

Getting back to it

One of the most basic tenets of time management in your personal life, which I have heard mentioned in more than one writers “How To” guide, is: “You always have the time. You’re just using it badly.”

The idea is that if you find you don’t have time for something, in this case writing, then you have to look at your life and see what you are doing with that time instead. There are things you have to do; eat, work (if you have a real life job), look after children (if you have any), etc. The rest is free time.* So if you don’t have time to write, what are you doing with your time instead? Are you not getting writing done because you are always playing computer games? Then cut out playing computer games. Are you not getting writing done because you spend all evening with your family? Bite the bullet and put aside half an hour every evening or morning to write, no matter what.

I’m not saying it’s always easy. It all comes down to how much you want to write, and how much you are prepared to give up to do it.

And this is what I’ve had to face for the last few weeks. I have had other temporary commitments. In June, Purple Theatre Company put on their production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, and I was Stage Managing. This meant that for the last few weeks more and more of my time was taken up with planning. I had set to design, and costumes to find, and so many other things to sort and arrange. And time I spent planning on the show, I couldn’t spend writing.

Now this has been causing me some distress. I wanted to write, but had a commitment I had to fill. I wanted to be part of this show. It’s not like anyone forced me to do it. But that meant writing took a back seat and I had very little free time left. What writing I could get in had to be on my main project, finishing The Serpent’s Eye, and so short stories and blog posts took a back seat.

But now I’m free. The show is over. This means that a huge section of my time has been freed up again! Writing is once more my pastime of choice, and I am able to take the time to face what I have in the pipeline.

I have short stories that need finishing. I have one story I was writing for a specific submission deadline, which I ended up missing. But I love the story and feel it will fit in most places. Once I get it polished up I can start to submit it around, and hopefully you’ll all get to read it soon.

I also have two stories for the Æther Collection that need finishing, and a third in my head ready for a first draft. I’ve let the Collection slide as a priority, and I’m angry at myself for that. I meant to have it completed by now, but let it sit on the back burner. I mean to fix this. I now have more time, and my main project, on which most of my time has been spent recently, is now complete and I am free to work on other things.

That’s right, The Serpent’s Eye is finished, finally coming in at 42,590 words. Now I am in the stages of making sure it is all formatted correctly and setting up the methods people will have to buy it.

And let me tell you, formatting this thing was no easy job. Scrivener is an amazing programme and has made the process so much easier, but it’s still something I’ve never had to do before. It’s taken a frustrating amount of trial and error to get it right.

But more on that soon. I am determined to get the ebook on sale before the end of the month, at the latest. Keep your eyes open.

So that’s where I’ve been. I will keep this blog updated more often from now on. I promise.

 
*If you can examine your life and in all honesty say you have no free time, and that everything you do between waking and sleeping is essential, then you have issues that may need addressing. Everyone needs free time.

Cover Reveal

So I’ve finally finished the last draft of The Serpents Eye. This one comes in at 42200 words. That’s a 2700 increase. Which I do think it needed. Once it was pointed out to me, I could definitely see the second act was a little sparse. It had been written as I had planned it, but sometimes you can be so focused of seeing something out as you planned it that you don’t see there is a slightly better way of doing it until someone else highlights it. I hadn’t done these bits badly, they just could have been better.

They also pointed out a plot point that made no sense and needed removing. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s just say I need to buy an atlas…

I’m confident that the rewrite has improved the book as a whole. As much as the rewrite involved much changing of past to present tense, and then much double checking I’m done this correctly, its done its job.

So while it’s going through its final proofread, I thought I’d do a reveal of the cover art, as done by my talented sister Emily.

tom book a3 jpeg

I always hoped she’d come in useful one day. I’m loving the image she created. I think it gives a great vibe of the old 18th Century books that have inspired this story, but with something more modern mixed in with it.

And so now with the cover finished and the last copyedit on the way I can refine my timelines a bit. Depending on the speed of my copyeditors, I’m now looking to get The Serpent’s Eye out by the end of May. I will keep this blog updated to any changes, but hopefully I’ll finally get to see this story out there in the real world.

And then we’ll see what people think. That’s actually the scary part.

Working hard, or hardly wor… no, definately working hard

So yes, there’s been a bit of lapse between posts. Sorry about that. I really don’t like leaving so long between updates, but sometimes life gets busy.

The main reason I’ve been this lax is that I’ve got a new day job. I’m not complaining. As much as I enjoy getting to write full time, until I can start earning proper money through doing so I need a dayjob. And this one is great, and so if I can’t be writing full time I’m glad I’m doing this instead of some terrible wage slavery.

However is does mean that the amount of time I have for writing has plummeted. From as much time a day as I wanted, I now have little more than an hour a day. And that’s if I don’t have something come up that takes up my lunch break.

So what does that mean for my current plans. Well, I’m definitely not going to stop writing. I’m still going to be working on The Æther Collection. I fully intend to finish that collection, but there will be a longer gap between them now. I have one story waiting for a final draft, and another two all planned out in my head. They will come, but currently they are on the back burner.

The reason for this is that I’m currently working on the latest draft of The Serpent’s Eye. My last alpha-reader got back to me with some very interesting notes that have lead me to do a little bit of rewriting. It’s not a massive change, just smoothing out a couple of points to make the story flow a little more organically. And it has meant breaking up some sections and reordering them. This has meant more effort and restructuring than I was planning at this stage, but it’s all worth it. Before, when I was writing full time, I probably could have got it all done in a week, two at the outside. Now it’s taking a little longer.

And of course this means that there are fewer updates coming up onto the website. I’m looking forward to working on short stories again. With my truncated writing hours, the short story format is a very appealing form to me right now. Shorter work means it gets done sooner, and I can post more updates.

But the novella is my main focus right now. I really want to get this out in the next couple of months. My sister has put together an amazing cover design, and I’m excited about having it in its finished form and getting it out there.

But things can’t be rushed. There is no point in sending stuff out before it’s ready. There are so many terrible, half finished books being self-published these days, and I refuse to let myself join the ranks of wannabe authors with no quality control.

So my apologies for the delays, and please keep reading.