Cover Reveal for zombie novella, Pacifier 6

As many of you may know, I’ve been working on a new zombie novella for the past couple of months. Well, the manuscript is completed and ready to go, and now the artwork’s here. I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and once again, Keith Draws has done an amazing job! If you’d like to keep abreast with the latest book news, feel free to signup to the newsletter and get books news and publication dates direct to your inbox (infrequently, I promise).

But, for now….I give you Pacifier 6 The Shadows Within

Pacifier final art 600 pixels

The apocalypse has come and gone. A disease, an infection, that blackened the Earth with horror. Then came Pacifier 6; a drug to calm the evil, to dampen the cravings for flesh and bone. Now you go to the store and pick out a zombie as if you were buying a new pet. 

But what happens when you realise that familiar faces still have feelings? 

Karl’s pulling himself back together, attempting to cope with the losses that life has dealt him. Amidst the horror of the past few months, he begins to realise that death isn’t necessarily the end; it can be the start of something new, something that has never been seen before. With everyone around him battling to keep society intact, Karl manages to see beyond the ravaged faces of those he once knew. There’s a new creature in the darkness, a consciousness that most have overlooked, and it’s waiting to reveal itself.

Pacifier 6 – The Shadows Within will launch on Friday 1st February – That’s just TWO days. The novella will cost $2.99 as an ebook, and if you want a little reminder as soon as it’s available, free feel to signup to the newsletter. If you can’t wait, and NEED to read some now, then the first chapter has already been posted to enjoy – HERE.

Thanks for stopping by,

A bloodied and zombified Geoff :D

Finding my way back to the inner pantser

In the writing industry, there are two common types of authors; the planners and the pantsers. If you haven’t heard of the latter term, it applies to writers to let the story emerge without really thinking about it. Whilst some individuals prefer to meticulously plan every chapter, draw up character sheets and have a detailed concept before they even start to write, pantsers normally have a few important story milestones to reach, a character or two at most and then just write. J. K Rowling is a famous planner of her novels, creating spreadsheets to easily guide her writing. I, however, am a complete pantser. I’ve never been able to plan a book in my life, and the idea of sitting down and writing out a chapter by chapter summary before I’ve even started makes me shudder. I actually don’t think I could even do it because many of my ideas spark from creative thought as I’m in the process of writing my fantasy novels.

Writing a series = Pantser freak out

However, herein lies the problem. Writing a standalone novel isn’t too tough if you just have to sit down and let the words flow. You can tighten up aspects of your book when you’re doing the edit. But, when you’re writing a series, all manner of complications begin to arise.

Spirits of the Middlelands is now progressing nicely, and I’m about one third of the way through (Hooray). Inside Evil was pretty easy to write, The Tower of Souls practically fell out of my mind and onto the page, and Spirits of the Middlelands? Gosh – it’s been causing me problems. I’m not sure whether it’s because I took time out to write CRYO and Pacifier 6, or whether I’m trying to wind so many strands of information together that it’s blowing my brain, but getting the flow has been hard.

So many threads

Spirits of the Middlelands is the third novel in a five book series, and whilst being the middle segment, there’s a lot to factor in. There are questions that need to be resolved from The Tower of Souls, for example. How did the Queen of the North Realms survive? Why was the girl able to cross over? Will the portal in the basement now be a doorway between worlds? These are all questions that need to be answered.

Then there is the lore around the Ammokra itself. What is it? Where did it start? Can it be stopped?

Then there are the individual story elements of each novel which need to tie together so you get the ‘Aha’ moments. Characters need to be progressed; Martha needs to be developed as a Gatekeeper, Roberta needs to prepare herself for life in hiding, Karl just needs to find an actual role in life.

Time to breathe

I’ve spoken about the threads as they’ve really begun to become problematic. How on earth can I write freely when there are so many elements that I’ve got to try and include? It’s for that reason that I’ve suffered major writer’s block for a couple of weeks. I like sitting down and watching Martha and Susan drink gin, or Roberta and Sam solving problems. I don’t want to feel as if I’m pulling teeth to get them to say or do anything.

Luckily, I’ve realised that the planning needs to step back, that I can go through the intricacies of the story in editing. That’s the time to add the little nuances and important features that will wind the entire series together. For now, I’m sitting back and let the characters do their own thing again, and truth be told, it’s working. Martha’s acting odder than ever, Roberta’s becoming more feisty and even Karl’s created an entire storyline that was never planned. This is the way I like it.

So what’s the entire point of this post? Basically, it’s to say; Don’t force it. I was trying far too hard to MAKE the story work instead of it letting it CREATE itself. Don’t stress on the first draft…just run with your thoughts and sort out the details later. You’d think I’d have known this by now…obviously not.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Let me know in the comments!

Using multi-channels to sell your ebooks

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that I’m a keen advocate of the multi-channel approach when it comes to selling books as an indie author. Had I come into the publishing industry a few months earlier, say around December 2011, then Amazon’s Select program may have well stirred enough interest to get me to sign up. As it is, I published Inside Evil in March 2012, and after reading several reports that the advantages of Select were already waning, decided against becoming exclusive. It seemed pretty obvious to me; I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket.

Select continues to draw a large number of people in, and I’m sure that they’re doing very well out of it. However, distributing with Smashwords and Kobo Writing Life has never been easier. I hear a lot of people saying that they have issues with Smashwords, but in all honesty, I can hand on heart say that I’ve had no problems. I’ve gone through their Meatgrinder without ending up with a completely ruined eBook file, I’ve got into their Premium catalogue with no worries, and I’ve been distributed fairly fast. B&N does take a while to get going, but I don’t necessarily think that this is Smashwords’ fault because CRYO landed in the iBookstore just days after being distributed.

Why use the multichannel approach?

- Readers

Readers want flexibility, and whilst the Kindle is still a huge eReader, an increasing number of people have other devices. I read everything on my iPhone and I have fans of my work who read on the Nook and Sony devices. Had I started on Select, none of these readers would have got to sample my work whilst the exclusivity contract was in place. And, though I’ve thought about putting subsequent work into Select, it ultimately means that any readerbase I’ve already gathered would be penalised for not choosing Amazon as their number one ebook provider.

- Maximum Exposure

There’s no denying it; Amazon is a huge marketplace and has millions of readers awaiting your novel. But this can have its downsides too. It will take more sales to get into Amazon’s Top 100 lists than it might on Apple or Kobo, and you’ll fall out of those lists more quickly too. Being on Amazon alone also stymies the places you can promote, and you’ll be stuck to advertising methods that only point directly back to Amazon. In addition, the Select contract means that you can provide excerpts of no more than 10% (i.e. the sample that Amazon offers) and links must direct back to them. However, by choosing to use a multi-channel approach, the world and all the eReaders really are your oyster.

Limiting Risk

Placing all your work in one place is risky. What happens if Amazon suddenly decides to stop promoting indie authors? They make a deal with the Big Six and, almost overnight, all those top ranking indie books disappear way down the lists because of changed algorithms? This is not a good thing, and it’s made worse if your work is only available on Amazon. Of course, creating a newsletter is the best option if you want to reach readers regardless of where they are and whatever happens to the market. However, by having your work in as many places as possible,  you can limit the risk of a big hit due to one market changing or closing.

I love Amazon, and they do make it very easy for us indie authors to sell our books. But I also love the multi-channel approach, and I’d be severely stunted if my readers suddenly couldn’t download on iBooks or the Nook.  CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has now made it to Apple, just days after it was uploaded to Smashwords, and you can find it for both US and UK versions. Having it in multiple places has helped its launch and got the book off to a good start. As for your advertising, which do you prefer? Amazon Select or multi-channelling?

Get your imagination bubbling with Face Off – Inspiration for fantasy writers

face-off-logoSometime last autumn I discovered SyFy’s special effects show ‘Face Off‘. This reality competition sets a group of contestants against each other in a bid to become the best special effects artist of the bunch. Whilst gripping, it’s also a fantastic resource for fantasy writers, especially if you’re feeling a little off your game.

Everyone needs inspiration now and then, and writers glean most of this from everyday life. Stories create themselves from circumstances we found ourselves in, a picture we’ve seen or perhaps a conversation we’ve overheard in the supermarket. If you’ve read any of my books, then you’ll know that I have a very descriptive style, bringing scenes to life by carefully creating the right ambiance and backdrop for my characters. But with that comes the need to have visual stimuli and inspiration too, and this is where Face Off is limitless.

Each week the contestants have a new challenge. This can be from creating a goblin king for a fantasy land, developing an age make-up for a set of triplets or making up an entirely new alien race from a specific world that they’ve been given. Special effects legends including Ve Neill (Hunger Games, Amazing Spider Man, John Carter), Glenn Hetrick (Chronicles of Riddick, Heroes, Angel) and Michael Westmore (Star Trek) offer input and ultimately make the decision of who stays and who leaves. A nice thing about the show is that, on the whole, the contestants get on and help each other out if needed, so as a viewer we get to see awesome fantasy creations without the bitchiness and backstabbing that so often comes hand-in-hand with reality television.

face-off-season-3-nicole

Fantasy writers can have a hard time of creating new characters and describing them just enough so that readers can formulate their own picture. Unlike film and television, we don’t offer visual impact other than our descriptive passages and narrative, so it’s up to the reader to use their own imagination to construct the characters in their minds. However, I find that I do need some visual inspiration when creating an alien species or creature for my writing, and a few quirks from Face Off can send my imagination racing. What if that headdress was embellished? What if that elongated jaw was drawn into this contortion?

So, if you’re feeling a little off colour when it comes to visualising your characters or creations, sit down and watch a couple of Face Off episodes. It could offer just the ingredient to get your imagination bubbling again.

CRYO: The Rise of the Immortals has arrived

cryofor kindle-revI’m over the moon to announce that CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has finally arrived. I got the final revisions this morning, spent a couple of hours making corrections and going through the manuscript one final time, before uploading to Amazon. As ever, Amazon were pretty swift off the mark, and CRYO: The Rise of the Immortals is already available to purchase.

This is a novel that has taken a LONG time to write, and there have been a lot of revisions along the way. Scrapping characters, changing existing ones, creating new ones. Throwing whole storylines away in favour of an alternate route…it’s certainly been an interesting ride.

If you’d like to know more, the the CRYO page now has the full first chapter, or alternatively you can download the sample from Amazon itself. Whilst CRYO is available at Smashwords, it’s still going through for Kobo, and could take some time for B&N because I have to wait for Smashwords to send the manuscript through.

Writing Challenges for 2013

Well, 2012 was quite a year wasn’t it?! This time last year I read an interview in the Telegraph about Amanda Hocking and thought, ‘I could do that‘. This time last year I had NO idea what a journey this self publishing process would take me on. This time last year I had a couple of unfinished manuscripts hiding away on my computer.

Inside Evil was published on March 12th, 2012 and since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride. I’ve got better at writing, become more accomplished at marketing and feel that my inner writer is finally coming out. And, in 2013, there’s some important goals to complete!

cryofor kindle-600px

 

 

CRYO; Rise of the Immortals

I was originally looking at a December launch, but, well….you may have noticed that December’s come and gone without a book. That’s because CRYO was an old manuscript that has been polished…hence more editing than normal is required. My editor is 54% of the way through, so I do expect this new science fiction saga to be released by the end of the month.

 

 

 

Inside Evil – Spirits of the Middlelands

If anyone follows my Twitter feed or Facebook page, then they’ll know that the third instalment of the Inside Evil saga has already begun. I’m SO glad to get back to Roberta, Susan, Martha and the rest of the gang to find out what’s been going on. Spirits of the Middlelands jumps forward by six months, so gone is the winter and here is the summer sun. I don’t always know what’s going to happen, so I’m excited by the new twists and conclusions that keep jumping into my mind. I’m aiming for two months of writing and editing, so would expect this third book to launch in March/April.

Pacifier Six

I can now reveal that the title for my zombie novella is ‘Pacifier Six – The Shadows Within‘ .  This was a book that I had not been intending to write at all, but it popped into my brain during NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t read the first unedited chapter, you can do so here. It’s only a novella, circa 30K, and it can be read as a stand-alone story. However, if people show interest and the novella does well, then I may well write further stories. The editing is finished on Pacifier Six, and I’m only waiting on the artwork. This means that this novella should be published in late January or early February.

In addition to publishing these three stories, I’d like to have the fourth Inside Evil book published by the end of the year so that the five book saga can complete in 2014. Depending on the reception for CRYO, I’ll also be looking to have completed the second book in this series! I have a lot to do!!

What are you planning for 2013?