Weekly Ramble #83

Okay so things are actually looking really good right now which is both weird and oddly satisfying. With everything I have thrown at this year in authoring and blogging just short of the kitchen sink, it might have worked. Seeing plans come to fruition albeit successfully is a somewhat liberating feeling both personally and for the wider world. Its also rather new territory. We’re not there yet, but just days from this year’s epic conclusion for me…

Authors and creators have a place in this world, even if said world does appear to be falling to shit, rising back to better and then down to shit again. Riding that wave has presented those who want it with an opportunity and a learning curve. That opportunity is something I fell ass first into and since dusting myself off and trying to get back up, several hands of several truly wonderful supportive people were there to pull me towards somewhere I’d never imagine; satisfaction in this constant battle to get your work read as an independently published author.

People have actually taken on my work, they have responded to those efforts, there are even those, although just a handful that have pre ordered a book that represents all of my story telling efforts up to this moment. This is such a far cry from efforts previous feeling like they fell on deaf ears. People are out there and they have my back, this is both heart warming and emotionally gratifying. From the dramatic ride of high’s, lows, reversions to zeros and everything in between this next book resonates that journey and reflects everything I’ve ever been through. The characters who are a diverse range of souls are going to have to band together in order to find some kind of resolve, like me finding you, loyal reader, a supporter and ally in this deal whom I am nothing without. It’s complicated, fun, surprising and now satisfying – all words that I use to describe this wider journey, the latter only really appearing recently.

Of course I’m not done yet, and perhaps I never will be, maybe that’s the secret. Marathon runners are always looking to better their PB and maybe that’s what I will always look to do, except I’m chasing the words, trying to get better, trying to get home. Either way recent times as an author in 2020 are worth smiling about, there isn’t much to be happy about these days, perhaps I’m lucky and the satisfaction will wear off, until then wish me luck, although that’s only a portion of the path to success. Consistent, creative content is what has really driven it, along with my work being accepted into open arms of those who have supported me. Thank you and bring on next week, the most important book release of my life.

‘I know every mile will be worth my while. When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong… ‘

Weekly Ramble #82

The 6th book release is near. Everything has kind of come together recently in a somewhat surprising turn of events from reaching the 4000 follower milestone on Twitter to actually selling books on a scale I’ve never known before. Maybe, just maybe I’ve figured things out. But how?

Sometimes stuff just aligns and it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken trial and error to figure out. The road to anything good is paved with hardship and hardwork. Those days of reverting to zero still rear their head every so often but I’ve learned a lot.

I’m by no means a master at this and as much as I expect not a lot of sales from the release of this next book, I’m optimistic that a cluster of loyal folks will at least support my efforts. This is no longer 2018 and my following is full of people I’ve helped and those who’ve helped me. We’re a community and collective, you know who you are. The philosophy of being in Island in the modern world of social media authoring will get you nowhere. This is possibly my greatest learning curve. Connecting, socialising and being consistent with content will eventually foster growth and a following. I’ve recently lauded the concept of getting readers to first invest in you before they take on your work and it’s becoming a way of life. This is while I’ve always kept pecking away at the stories, chasing the words.

Blindly sharing the link to your work is a beginners error. Nobody cares for a writer who does this for self gain. Do this so we can all gain something from one another. There’s a compelling story that’s beyond our books and that’s what will hook people in to you. Being active in the arena and contributing to the writing community is the only way I’ve got to where I am and I’m thankful for the people I’ve networked with.

As much as social media can be a toxic cesspool it’s here for the long haul like me and Book 6 is just my latest milestone of many more things to come. Watch this space which is now decorated with optimism.

You can expect more information about Book 6 very soon!

The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?

Weekly Writing Inspiration…

Because if I can do it, anyone can so how about some motivational propaganda to start the month of right! And let us start with some very wise words…

20200701_094731

Darke Blood got it’s latest review via Goodreads; this has been especially rewarding after new marketing idea!

Image

It’s a bargain, but I’m not so sure about the story….

Image

soshaldistancing

AMIRIGHT….

Shout out to S.D McKinley for this awesome review of Open Evening

OE review

Word of the month…

Image

And Finally, ‘Every Stephen King Book; even the ones that aren’t macabre or supernatural still finds a way to be depraved…’ 

Image

Have a good rest of the week, and have a good month! Rock and roll man…

Weekly Ramble #75

I’m approaching the finish of my current WIP. Ten to fifteen thousand words remain for a trilogy and wider pentalogy that has defined my indie author efforts. This time around there is no urgent rush to finish, I have taken the slower approach, a gradual effort in taking in every sense that I wish the reader to experience. It’ll be done when it’s done (in a months time worst case…)

Marketing and sales is still a constant struggle. Whether or not the whole covid thing weighs on that, it’s still difficult keeping these books afloat in the deep waters of so many other writers trying to do the same. Sales are few and far between albeit better than last year and the year before. I’m in need of a new tactic to move books.

My efforts will soon move to the next release. ‘Darke Awakening’ a cross over that ties Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House together – the Order of the Following series and that pentalogy I talked about. At the moment I’m either reading, running or writing. It could be worse I suppose…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #74

I’m starting to embrace and enjoy the semi lock down lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I miss people, I miss gatherings, I miss the opportunity to have conversations but many of the lifestyle elements right now I am enjoying. 

It’s a case of embracing what is good in a shituation. That’s what this is and for so much bad that has come from this, it’s also been a huge opportunity to take on things that I wouldn’t normally take on. In the beginning I got myself back into booze nearly every night. Drinking for me has always been a vessel to good times and so I leaned on that perception to have a ‘few’ every night and for a while it worked as a coping mechanism. We all know that’s a slippery very short term slope and especially so for the health situation and of course the scales which I quickly became unhappy with.

The lock down was something that began to piss me off, no matter what I did and so my mental health took a hit for a small time but I’m pretty damn good at getting my ass up off the ground. I took one big look at myself and said ‘I can do more with these days’ and I’m lucky enough to have a work that has continued to pay and employ me, just on a different basis. I have to attend work for two shifts every 6 days, day time or night time.

For someone who’s been held down by the excuse of work for pretty much everything I eventually crawled away from that because of all this time I now have. I’m getting up before 9 every day, I’m eating clean, I’m exercising every morning and then leaving my afternoons to write and read. This is the best shape my schedule has been in for a long time. It’s like being semi retired and I’m doing stuff I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe finding the best out of a bad situation is really the best way any of us can cope…

How are you coping right now? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about… Book Marketing

Do you feel slightly dirty whenever you spam the link to your book on social media? People who see it feel the same too because nothing is worse than seeing an author constantly spamming their own social media platforms with their own stuff…

I thought its best I put together some other methods to get folks to buy and more importantly read your books. Marketing is the most overlooked part of being a writer and the excuses range from ‘I’m an introvert’ to ‘I’m not a salesman’. Well the truth is you need to be neither to get reads and sales. While selling stuff is subjective I can happily admit I’ve sold a few books in most corners of the civilised world so this is my talk about book marketing…

What you need to do above all is to set out a realistic and achievable goal. Before you even start, ask yourself what I do want to get out of this book I have bestowed upon the world?

What do you want and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Sales and money ? – in this age of everyone self publishing (which is good and sometimes very bad…) I wish you all the luck in the world. Unless it’s about a real current thing that’s gone crazily popular or even a masterpiece you’ve written, don’t expect instant bucks, just don’t. Breaking even is a dirty word around here… and so I can’t help with this one…

sales

People reading and reviewing your work – now this is a very achievable goal and the chances are of it happening will grow as you release more stuff – that is if you intend to write more than one book like a real writer… There are many a different factors that govern whether or not people will see you work, pick it up and then review it. I can’t list them all but here’s a mini breakdown.

  1. Reasonable Price
  2. Decent Blurb
  3. Decent pro cover art
  4. Catchy title that matches genre and cover
  5.  A social media presence of some kind

That’s great and all but HOW can I get people to read my work?

Well if you have the 5 factors above ticked then all you have to do is let the world know about it. And no don’t just go spamming the link every 5 minutes. Do these things instead:

  1. Reach out to book bloggers for a review – offer a free copy in exchange. We don’t bite…
  2. Friends and relatives are a great starting point for reads/reviews. Ask them to help.
  3. Give your E-book away for free and pay for advertising through many book promo sites – check this post out for more info on that 
  4. Read and review other authors works – many writers will repay you because that’s just manners (don’t expect this though).
  5. Write another book and then another – writers with a back catalogue will most likely have returning readers if they liked one of your titles. Immediately after reading my first Crichton novel, I pursued his whole catalogue…
  6. Start a blog like this and talk about the laments of being a writer. Share your woes, book sales results and give back to the community.

Some writers who stubbornly say they wont give their work away for free will not get very far. Unless you are already famous or some kind of popular figure it’s highly likely you are starting this from zero. Sometimes setting the price to zero will attract readers who might buy at full price next time.. this then leads into…

Use social media properly – The word ‘properly’ is just my humble opinion but I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active on social media and to engage with others both respectfully and genuinely.

What is social media? Here are 34 definitions… – Econsultancy

Don’t just share your book link, don’t, I see you’re about to do it, just don’t!

Instead comment on other authors posts, be encouraging, friendly, follow back and retweet stuff. Trust me this will turn more heads than anything else on social media and of course Twitter. Be genuine.

If you want my top tip have a real profile picture. This is a very simple and effective way to be genuine. People who don’t have an actual person as a profile picture have an incomplete stance on social media, plus it’s kinda creepy that you would wish to remain anonymous. Honestly show your pretty face, it can’t be that bad…

Be patient – okay this one might be a cop out, but good things like having sales and reads take time, commitment and books. Write more, dive into the words and don’t dwell on people who haven’t discovered your work.

Many many more things – there are a stack of more things that come into play with book marketing, perhaps for another post sometime. But don’t forget luck, the time of year, what’s happening in the world and many many more things need to be taken into account in book marketing…

The biggest challenge any author faces is not the writing but what comes after. Informing the world you exist is that challenge. Embrace it, go after it and more importantly don’t give up on it. Giving literature to the world is a gift trust me…

And if you enjoyed this post head on over to my Facebook page and give it a like becasue that’s the place where I give away books!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #67

Even in these times of pandemic weighing on my shoulders I’m still writing and reading. Carrying on in the face of adversity is a survival instinct and I’m holding in there, I hope you are too!

Like me you probably can’t help but look at the news for the twelfth time in a day but that’s how we are wired in this age of information. Watching the news all the time will have a bad effect eventually, stay away for a while. Find your escape through means of what you would normally do – in a safe way. Its Easter so theres chocolate and food. Check in with family and friends, use the social media channels, they are still plugged in and aren’t going anywhere.

We as a species have an incredible way of facing the odds with a smile and I’m trying. Truth is I’m doing okay and this covid thing has had a unique effect of my literary stance. Books, my books are selling. Paperbacks are actually selling. These really are unprecedented times and now I am feeling the satisfaction for having a form of art to offer. Others are taking on my work which is there for anyone. Writing will last longer than any who scribes it no matter the times. That gives me hope even in ‘normal’ times my writing will have a place for somebody.

Editing and drafting new stuff takes up some of my time, even with this new pressure of what is happening showing no signs of letting up. I’m not spending hours working but I’m slowly and surely making gradual progress. A page a day, one step at a time and things might be okay…

 

My debut novel Open Evening is free this coming Wednesday!

Weekly Ramble #65

It gives me a sense of hope that even in these times people are buying my books. Not that the sales or royalties matter, let alone do they even contribute to my salary but the thought that someone has been interested enough in the blurb or cover art to give an essence of my soul and imagination a try. 

Hope can give a person enough to know that maybe they are on the right path no matter how uncertain all of our near futures are, some things will shine through this dark time, like sunshine on a rainy day, feeling that heat just feels better when it’s been cold for so long. People who continue to blog and read this blogging effort I must thank you from the bottom of my heart. We must keep the spirit of what we were alive enough so we don’t lose what we stood for. 

I’m trying, like always to create stuff that will at least take one person away for a while and most of my reduced audience seem to appreciate that while those who appear not to be tuning in are distracted elsewhere – this is a difficult time I know and I hope all of you are holding up.

I’ve started a diary that I hope will capture everything that’s going on right now, from my personal life all the way to current events. This is a fascinating historical time and without a diary to convey the essence of in the moment emotion, I couldn’t possibly relay this in years to come. It’s also a way of coping and a self care practice of reflection. Like stories, once I had laid them to rest on paper they no longer need to reside in my head. This coping strategy is working at the moment.

My plan like I said before is to have a business as usual front to all of this. There is no reason not to carry on especially with all the closures and postponements going on around the world, the Hall of Information hopes to carry on throughout.

Good vibes and health to you all!