Saturday, 21 May 2011

Bite-Sized Chunks - Day 3 - deliberate vagueness

Chronoligically, my calender tells me this is not day three of this project. However, it is the third update. So...

I sent a press release to the Falkirk Herald and a story about the webseries appeared in the paper on Thursday. I've had one response directly from that by someone who wants to be in the series. I've had a few responses on facebook, too. Unfortunately, the story doesn't appear to be on the online version of the paper.

We ran into some location problems, but I used my diplomatic skills to sort things out. I never even knew I had diplomatic skills. Making a webseries, even just planning a webseries, is on the one hand such an awesome cool thing that I'm having the most fun ever, and on the other hand, I'm learning so much so rapidly.

One of the things I never considered at college that I'm learning now is set design. For the series to work the way it needs to, certain things need to be included in the set design. Tiny things that the viewers most likely won't notice the first five times they watch it. But by including them, the entire thing will be so much better.

I'm being deliberately vague here, because I don't want to give away spoilers. This show could seriously be ruined by spoilers. So vagueness is required.

Anyway, since I've been considering set design, I've had to look into set design. It's such a totally interesting concept. Unfortunately, we have a limited budget, but I can really understand how hard it would be to start with an empty room and furnish it for a big production.

It says something about the character who lives in a house if he has a painting on the wall. An original Van Gogh says something different to a painted portrait of a loving family which says something differnt to a run of a mill print they bought in Tesco's for £15. If the picture is hanging squint, it says something about the character.

And you have to do that with every item. All the time.

I might do a later post just on set-design. It's a totally fascinating subject.

Other things that have been happening: we're hammering out an overview of the series. Although it's about survivors of a zombie apocalypse, it's more of a psychological horror than a gore fest. Don't be expecting The Evil Dead because those types of films haven't influenced this at all.

I'm not going to mention what films have influenced it, but right now me and Fiona are making a list of all the films and episodes of TV shows which are in someway similar to what we're doing. At some point these may need to be watched, just so we can be totally familiar with how other people have presented the things we need to present. We'll consider carefully what works and what doesn't, and how we can adapt what has worked for other people to work for us.

It's really interesting in that college taught me the basics I need for doing this, but doing this has taught me so much more than college ever did. And will continue to do so...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Bite-Sized Chunks - day 2

It's 1:05 pm and I thought I better update my blog. I've done a few things already that I want to share on here. I find it utterly fascinating, but then I'm fascinated by marketing and the like so that explains why.
Firstly, I rolled back the minimum donation on my IndieGoGo fund raising campaign to just $1. So, that's like 50p. If I can raise £500 it pretty much covers equipment and props for the shoot, so if everyone donates $1 I'd be really ecstatic. Truthfully, I'm not expecting to reach £2000 in forty days.

Secondly, I updated profile on Twitter, and spent an hour on Twitter friending people and making comments. I was using Twitter religiously by the end of last year. I'll be completely revamping and re-using Twitter from here on out.

Thirdly, I updated my profile on Linked-in and spruced it up a bit. It's looking nice.

Fourthly, I put out a call on facebook last night for musicians who'd be interested in having their work in my webseries.

And fifthly, I researched product placement. Unfortunately, I really don't think product placement will happen on Bite Sized Chunks. You need to approach your chosen company with viewing figures and basically show then how including their product in your series will impact on them. So to do that, you really need a series already done. However, if Chunks is successful, product placement may well happen for my planned next programme, Saltire, which will be filmed in October.

And it's only just hit lunch-time :)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

New Project - Bite Sized Chunks - Day One

Okay, first of all, my writer's block is gone, and it's 50% done to a blog post by Mars Dorian: writer's block is for pussies!

And 50% done to the fact that I'm AWESOME.

So, I'm back, and I'm working on something fantastic, and I'm gonna go straigt ahead and tell you all about it.

I'm making a webseries.

I'm making a freaking webseries.

Yeah, that's right, not a novel this time: a ten episode webseries called Bite Sized Chunks.

I'm not doing it alone. Oh no, I have a fantastic partner-in-crime. Fiona Rix is one hell of a talented camera operator, she has an excellent photographer's eye, and she's really talented. And not just for a girl. She's easily as good as a guy.

She's on facebook but I'm not guaranteeing she'll accept your friend request. When you friend her, send a little message that it's about the webseries, and she might accept.

Bite Sized Chunks

10 episodes, each one less than 5 minutes in length, but what's it all about? Well, that's simple: it's the story of a group of desperate people who have managed to survive the country being overrun by zombies.

Boring. Zombies are done. There's nothing new to do with zombies. Zombies are pish.

No they aint, kid. Trust me on this one. Bite Sized Chunks is not your typical zombie story. It's more psychological than gory. It's more about the survivors desperately trying to survive than the horrorific monsters that share their world.

It's new, different, edgy and dark.

So What's Happening Right Now

I've written an episode guide. Fiona's adding her own ideas to it, and we'll pound it out until our creative vision meshes and we're happy with the outcome. Then we'll write the scripts for each episode.

Fiona lives in Edinburgh and I'm just outside Falkirk so we're corresponding by text and sharing files through and I totally intend to do a future blog post on this joint writing thingy and how bloody useful is.

We've got our character ideas nailed. There are 5 characters and I'll do a blog post on them as well.

I launched our fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo and we're trying to raise £2000 in 40 days to pay for equipment, props, and meals during filming. We're not making any money out of this and we have a £0 budget currently. We're considering hiring equipment from Pilton Video.

I've secured the main location for the film shoot, we've settled on the date that shooting can begin (23rd June) and Episode 1 is written.

I wrote a Press Release and sent it to my local newspaper, the Falkirk Herald - not sure if they'll take it anywhere or not, but it's worth trying. I've put a call out on facebook for cast and music and a call on media muppet for cast.

And I sorted out my new website and updated it with info about Bite Sized Chunks. You can find my website here.

Not bad for day one of my project.

This blog will be regularly updated with progress and, when we have them, images.

It's all go from here... :)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Not so Hard

So, I've not been blogging much. And I've not been writing much. I can't even say I have secret things I've been working on... well I could but that would be a total lie. I've got a kind-of writer's block the now. I've pretty much had it since I separated from my wife in November.
I used to write every day. I used to write because writing relaxed me and made me feel better about everything. But in some small way I think I blame writing for my marriage breaking up - I was on my pc far too much. I wasn't just writing, and there was far more to the break up than that. And I'm not going into it in anymore details because it's personal.

I'm into sharing. But I'm not that into sharing.

So, I figured I'd force myself to write a blog. And then tomorrow or in a few days I'll force myself to write another one. And maybe eventually I'll get back to writing novels.

But what to blog about? I could blog about my life I suppose. The thing is, right now, I know so many secrets it seems to be what my whole life revolves around. There are small secrets and big secrets, secrets that could cost people their jobs or their marriages, secrets that would only cause embarrasment or anger, and secrets that would break people's trust in me.

It makes blogging hard.

I'm in a good place (in my head) the now, actually. It's a strange feeling, but I feel kinda at a turning point. A few months ago I was the lowest I'd ever been, pretty much the lowest its possible to be. And I've been going up since then. Had to, really, couldn't possibly go down.

And now I'm doing pretty good. I won't say I'm great, still really need to find a job and a house. But good enough for now. Happy-ish.

There, that wasn't so hard after all.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Do You Even Realise How Bloody Hard it is to Think up a Catchy and Relevant Title?

Ok. This is not a blog post following the style of my usual blog posts. This is instead a mish mash of crazy ideas. It's insane!!!!!!

Yeah, maybe not, and I feel like a prat for writing that.

Okay. My life:

I'm going to a spiritualist church tonight, my first time ever attending. I recenty bought myself Tarot cards, too. Hmm. I may end up all Sixth Sensei - probably not.

I joined a dating website. It is very strange and I'm not comfortable on it, and most of the girls there terrify me a bit. There are a lot of weirdoes in my neck of the woods. C'est la vie, baby.

I made a film (short documentary) about Girls Who Play Dungeons and Dragons. It is not a nice film, and quite rips the piss out of D&D players, but hey - I reckon they should be used to it.

Actually, I used to play. Now I play (and much prefer) Savage Worlds. Recently played Deadlands Reloaded and loved that enough to want to write something in the Weird West.

Think that's enough about life.


Imported files from 3 different flashdrives and 2 computers to my new laptop and completely file managed it. I found the YA book I'd lost.

My writing consists of:

Matilda Raleigh: Invictus - currently unpublished, due for editing and perhaps a cover overhaul

Cyborg Killer - a pulpy, noirish styled novel set on  hydropolis (floating city) in a future earth where the sea waters rose. Ethan Wilkes is chief of security for the cybernetics Megacorps, and someone is killing cyborgs. Could it be the bio-genetically enhanced terrorists who are angry that a cyborg is too be allowed in the Olympics for the first time ever? Or is it something much more sinister? Wilkes and his deputy, Blood God Moon, must find out the answers. Would have been hard even if Wilkes hadn't just become legal guardian of his daughter, Crystal Strange, whom he hasn't seen in 13 years...

Princess Lucky and the Dead King's Diamonds - mute squire Sebastian, apprentice druid Thomas, and Princess Lucky (daughter of Arthur, and heir to Camelot) must combine the broken pieces of the dead king's diamond into a whole and destroy it, or all Camelot will fall. Meanwhile, the child-eating witch Baba Yaga hunts Sebastian for her own nefarious purposes. A YA book, dare I say similar to Harry Potter?

The Wordsmith of London (Circa 1880) - a former couple, who recently went through a bad break up, get sucked into an alternate world where fictional characters exist. It's all the fictional characters you might expect to find in Victorian London, from Dracula to Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan to Phineas Fogg, a Tyrannosaurus Rex to Tarzan. Very fun. I actually wrote this about 3 years ago; it has not been influenced by my break up in anyway.

Naked Flesh-eating Lesbian Zombie Chicks in 3D - THIS IS NOT IN 3D! A small town is overrun by zombies. This is set in Denny, where I grew up. It's a love story, actually. Kind of. A romance. And it has the best sex scene ever in it. It's also about secrets, responsibility, consequences, and growing up. And it's about dads. Not my dad, just... dads.

If everything goes to plan, all six of them should be out this year. I definitely plan to have invictus rereleased and Cyborg Killer out this year. I reckon I might also get Wordsmith out. These are the ones that need the least amount of work.

Which means Nasty, Mean-spirited Evil Little Goblinses (Be Free in Your Hearts) will be scheduled for next year, or the year after.

Oh, and I've been talking to a freelance editor on facebook, we're trying to agree to something. The only reason I didn't have Invictus edited waas because editors tend to be a bit anal about pricing. $30 an hour and no idea how many hours it will take....

If I needed my house plastered, the plasterer would come out, have a look, and give me a quote which would possibly change. If an editor said "Send me the m/s, I'll take a 10 min look at it, and tell you my initial impression of how long it will take," then Invictus would have been edited.

I mean, I can afford $100. I'd struggle with $1500. And if he wanted $15000, then if he worked 5 hours a week on it, I'd have 2 years to save up...

And that's all folks.

Friday, 18 February 2011

In Which I eat my Words

In my last post, I spoke of how indie writers are secretive, and I also mentioned sales numbers. I wasn't particularly meaning indie writers are secretive of sales numbers: traditional publishers aren't very forthcoming either. My main point was that indies can be different from trads and still look professional.

Anyway, I shall have to eat my words.

Here are some sales numbers: Susan Bischoff, Victorine Lieske, Guido Henkel, B.V. Larson, Blake Crouch, Sam Torode.

There, that's just a few. There's a whole host of guest posts on Joe Konrath's blog about this very thing.

And S.L. Armtrong kindly shared hers in the comments of the last post.

S.L. Armstrong describes herself as a midlist author, but she is selling in a genre (m/m erotic romance) that is notoriosly difficult to sell in. Susan Bischoff has sold 10k books in just six months with only a single YA book released. Guido Henkel hasn't been selling quite as well as the other names up there, but essentially they are Amanda Hocking's peers.

At the same time, e-book readers are down to £75.

At the same time, Borders in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy. Borders in the UK went bankrupt and closed a few years back.

And now Aplle is challenging Amazon, which I haven't been able to find a link to, or read upon, or anything, so I'm not going to comment except to say it's happening.

What does this all mean?

Fucked if I know, but it's exciting, isn't it?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why I Unpublished my book, and What is Next

You know, I'm getting a bit sick of all the tra la la las. Things folk are saying, advice they are offering, and its the same shit all the time. Here's one I hear a lot.

if Stephen King wouldn't do it, I won't do it

Okay, in actual fact, I've never heard that, never with King's name anyway. But peeps keep floating in comments about how a trad pubbed midlist author doesn't do certain things. So Indies shouldn't, cause it makes us look professional (if'n we don't).

Personally, I call that a crock of shit.

Trad pubbed midlisters (TPMLs from here on) have rules to follow, like Never Piss off a Potential Customer, and so on. And if they did, they'd get their asses chewed by their agents and editors and everyone else. It's why so many TPML books are formulaic, and it's why so many readers love the originality and personality in indie novels.

Shouldn't we let some of that originality and individuality shine out of our asses, too? Sorry, I meant shine out of our blogs.

So what makes indie's look professional? Well, great books, great covers, great storylines, good editing. Those kind of things.

I'm not saying you should be like the monkey at the zoo and fling your shit at people, but I am saying with no one breathing down on indie's backs, its refreshing to be honest, and up front, and just be yourself.

I've noticed indies can be a bit "defensive" about certain things, like there are rules
  • don't talk about money
  • don't bad mouth other indies
  • don't bad mouth the trad publishers
  • act like you've got a big stick up your jacksie
Some of that's just pish. Here, look, I'll break some rules and the world won't end.


I published Invictus on Smashwords on Sept 10th, 2010. I put it on Amazon a month later. It is now the 16th of February and I have to date sold (oh my God, don't reveal your sales figures)

50 copies
Yep, that's all.

40 on Amazon, 10 on Smashwords.

Amanda Hocking I aint, huh?

So, what went wrong? Well, it was actually quite a lot of things.

For one, the cover. I like the cover, but it is very plain, very bland. Invictus begins in medias res and never comes down. I want the cover to reflect something of the story, whether it be the airships or the demons, the revolvers or the clockwork robot assassins.

For two, the pacing. Invictus, as I just mentioned, is fast. Very fast. It races from attempted royal assassination to the sinking of the Titanic, setting fire to half of London and crashing an airship along the way. The pacing needs to be reconsidered, and one or two slower moments introduced.

For three, the editing. Which will be a post all on its own.

For four, the marketing. I released Invictus in October, separated from my wife in November, and am just returning to my book in February. All the marketing Invictus had was word of mouth, and that didn't happen much. Not surprising, with the points addressed above.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Resurrected from the Ashes


Anyone still read this?

Probably not, lol.

Hi. My name's Chris. I used to live here, or at least I spent so much time online that I felt like I lived here.

Apparently, my wife felt like that, too, lol. We separated in November.

That makes it sound like it was all because of the blog.

It wasn't.

It was about 70% due to toothpaste, and about 30% due to lack of certain lubricants. Romance writers take note: applied in certain areas, toothpaste burns.

No, that wasn't true. Mostly.

The bit about the separation was. The reasons I'm not sharing. :)

Being a guy, I moved out and left my ex the house and kids. I'm still looking for somewhere to stay. Things have been difficult. Parts have been fun.

The strippers on xmas eve were great. The doc trip afterwards, not great. I've never been so embarassed, getting lectured on condoms by a middle aged woman. Again, not true.

I write fiction, for fuck sake. I'm supposed to make stuff up.

I haven't really written since November. I'm starting to knock ideas about. Could be a while before anything makes sense. Could be a while before I post again.

In the meantime, I Aint'nt Dead.

Free STD if you know who wrote that. :)

Love xxx

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ready for adventure

Wow, what a month November was. What a month December promises to be.

Here's a quote from a poem I love, If... by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

You can read the full poem here.
You might have guessed from my absence I've been going through some personal shit. I'm not ready to fully talk about it yet, but I will at some point. November was the hardest month of my life, and I sunk into such a fugue - I have never been so low. At one point I just gave up, completely gave up. 
I was on an emotional rollercoaster, some days so elated I wouldn't be surprised if people thought I was on something, other days so low I just wanted to curl into a ball and never move again. I went off food, went off life, some days just sat and stared into space for hours. 
It was actually the beginning of December I gave up. I went on a 12 mile hike through 12 inches of snow. It took four hours, and I was drenched, frozen and tired by the end of it. I got a text message to go see a spiritualist, and got the bus back. I had to buy new socks incase my toes fell off.
The spiritualist's name was Pauline. She spoke to me for an hour, told me things I needed to hear but didn't want to, things I wanted to hear, things I already knew but hadn't verbalised.  She brought me to a place I've never been before. The fight came back, I've no longer given up; and yet, at the same time, I am completely at peace. It is almost zen-like.
I've learned a lot about myself the past few weeks, found a lot in me I don't like, and yet I have more confidence than I have had in a long time. Because I can see the person I want to be, and I can see inside me the potential to become that person. At 28 years old, I feel like I'm growing up, feel like I am finally becoming a man.
November was a hard month. There was a lot of pain. I realised a lot about myself, discovered through introspection that I have a high level of immaturity and emotional dependency that have been hindering me. But I believe it is the most painful times of our lives that allow us the most chance to grow.
December will be a hard month. I will face my greatest fear, again and again and again. I'm standing at the edge of it, watching, waiting, about to throw myself in. And yet, I am still at peace. I made a very hard decision yesterday, carried it out today. A life-changing decision that will have an impact on far more than just me. But I can't help but feel like this is the right decision, I'm on the right path.
I haven't felt this sure about something in a long time.
A week ago, I could never have made this decision. Sometimes in life the thing you think you want is not the thing you need, and you'll never realise what the thing you need is unless you get what you thought you wanted. I know what I need now.
I need to grow, I need to change, I need to fulfill the potential I see inside of me. I need to become someone I can be proud of being. This is the most painful and frightening thing I have ever done, but in some ways it reminds me of the old rites of passage.
I will face my fear until I have no fear of it. I will embrace all the pain the world can bestow upon me, confident that no matter how much it hurts it will not destroy me. And at the end of this, no matter the consequences, I will not be the same person I was at the beginning. I will be a better person, closer to the person I want to be. As Rudyard Kipling said: You will be a man, my son.
As Peter Pan said: To die would be an awfully big adventure. I'm not dead yet, and whilst I live I can fight. I will never give up. I'm finally ready for my adventure...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Leave of Absence

Due to personal circumstances, I am taking some time off the internet. I might be active on facebook, but that will be all, and even then not much.

I know I have commitments to people on-line. I am sorry to break them. I have commitments to people off-line, too. Real Life always comes first; I seem to have forgotten that these passed few months.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Video Game Syndrome and Becoming an Indie Author (With Giveaway!) by Zoe Winters

If someone was to come up to me and ask me to name the most influential Indie writer, there's only one name I'd consider. She doesn't have as many books out as some, she isn't making as much money as some, but she is everywhere on the web, and she has bound up her name, her brand, with indieness as much as she has with snarky paranormal romance.

Her paranormal romance must be good: she recently told me she even knows what snog means. :)

She's Zoe Winters, and these days she barely needs an introduction. And better than that, she's just brought out a "how to be Zoe book," all about how YOU can get as snarky and fantastic as her. Or maybe it's about being an indie author. Yeah, that's probably it. 

Anyway, Zoe is being totally fantastic today by blogging here. 

 I recently released a guide for indie authors in ebook called: "Becoming an Indie Author". The book is part motivation, part how-to, and part my experiences as an indie over the past two years. Since I started this journey, I've sold over 28,000 ebooks. I'm still far from my goals, but self-publishing is becoming so hot that it seemed like the time was right to release a book about it.

I'd been giving out a lot of info on my blog as well as the Indie Reader blog and the comments section of other people's blogs, that it seemed time to start organizing and collating it. (Actually it might be a bit redundant to say both organizing and collating, but whatever.)

A lot of people have started mentioning me on their blogs and on forums. I get random Google Alerts frequently where someone mentions me as an "exception" somewhere online. People have started to take notice that dinky little Zoe Winters might actually do pretty okay with this indie thing.

The last chapter of the book is on troubleshooting and mistakes I've made, so you don't have to make them. One of the things I talk about in that section is "Video Game Syndrome," which is what my critique partner, Susan Bischoff, calls it.

If you've ever played a video game you know how stressful it gets when you start to get really far in the game or super high points. It's like... "Eeek, doing well, can't mess up now. Can't lose it now! I just need to get a little farther. Just a few more points."

The same thing happens in book publishing. I'd been tortoising along for 17 months before I started making more than $200 a month. Then suddenly I released my third novella and all my books zoomed to the 100's in overall sales rank on Kindle. I stayed there for 6 weeks, which was probably my most stressful 6 weeks of this whole indie author thing.

Because suddenly I felt like people were watching, and I was finally starting to make money. Where before I was on a "slow and steady wins the race" mentality, once I started selling well, I began to picture myself living under a bridge if it all ended. Attention Captain Emo, your girlfriend is wandering around on aisle five.

I've settled down a bit because I know that high sales rankings are awesome, but eventually they will go away. Only, note to universe... please please keep sales rankings high at B&N just until the end of the month, Zoe hasn't owned a car in 3 years, and it would be super awesome to buy one with author money.

So basically, my point is this: If you happen to have seen my name crop up around the Internet and you think I'm "lucky", it sort of took 2 years of hard work and non-stop marketing and making myself crazy without an outside job to distract me to "get lucky". It doesn't happen instantly. And when it "does" start to happen for you, you will become more stressed and pressured when you feel people are watching or have expectations. This is normal. It happens to everyone. 

If you're just starting on your indie journey or you'd like to sell more books than you currently are, you might want to go check out my book: "Becoming an Indie Author".

You can pick it up at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or Smashwords.

I'll also give away a free digital copy of "Becoming an Indie Author" to one commenter here. To enter, all you need to do is tell me your biggest challenge as an indie if you're currently self-publishing, or the biggest fear holding you back if you aren't.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Guest Post - S. L. Armstrong - Collaborative Writing

Guest Post Goodness! I've been looking forward to today's guest poster for weeks; I'm fascinated by the whole idea of writing in conjunction with another author. It's something I've considered doing before, and would love to try at some point.

But is it practical? Fabulous Indie writer S. L. Armstrong, 50% of the creative talent of Storm Moon Press is here to explain the practicalities of co-writing....

When Chris told me I’d be welcome to add his blog to my blog tour, the topic was a natural one for me. When Chris and I first met, he asked me a bit about what it was like co-authoring with someone. You can’t really explain that in 140 characters, though, so this is my chance to answer that question in detail.

I write with K. Piet on 98% of my fiction. I met her quite a number of years ago when I wrote fanfiction. She was a fan of my work and would often leave me feedback on an old Livejournal, and we conversed a few times in email. Eventually, though, I grew tired of fanfiction and began to write my own fiction, and she followed me as a fan through that transition. About three years ago, I fell into a lull where original fiction was difficult for my brain to conjure and I reverted to role playing. I dragged K. along for that ride and, for almost a year, we role played together using characters from a fandom we both loved.

When the role playing sparked our desire to write fanfiction together, it came easily to us. We began to write AU fanfiction for our fandom, but I quickly grew restless with that as AU fanfiction has never made much sense to me. If we were going to only use the setting the original author created and not the characters, then why not just write our own stuff? K. took a little convincing, as she’d never written before that, but I felt she had a great talent for it. Within weeks, we’d taken my idea for a fantasy world called Egaea that I’d been working on and off for a year on and blew it out into a true world filled with characters.

This cover is awesome!

However, Egaea is a long-term project that will take us years to see to fruition, and we wanted to write and publish other stuff in the meantime. We wrote the initial drafts of The Keeper and Rachmaninoff in late 2008-early 2009, and then sat on the drafts until March of 2010 when we went into business together and formed Storm Moon Press LLC.

It’s been a hell of a journey, I’ll say that, and it’s not always been smiles and happy times. There was a brief rupture between us in April of 2009 that led to us not writing together for about six months, and we didn’t return to our manuscripts with the intent to publish until 2010. It was stressful, I’ll admit, because as much joy that comes with having the interaction of writing with another author, there is the grief that comes when there is a serious falling out. When your work is tied to another person, the loss of that relationship can—and often does—leave unfinished works in limbo.

Luckily, K. and I were able to come to terms we both could live with. I have a very exhausting drive which can wear thin on K., and she has other commitments (family and job) that can frustrate me when we’re looking down the barrel of a deadline. I don’t do well with changes to our routine sprung on me at the last minute, and K. has trouble with feeling as if she’s meeting all my expectations. It can be very stressful and hard, but the rewards are well worth all the trouble.

What rewards, right? Well, for me, there is nothing better than working with someone to develop characters, to form a story. There is such motivation in having someone else involved, to receive instant feedback on any idea you might share. I can’t tell you the number of nights K. and I have stayed up excitedly discussing our next idea or spent on IMs working out how characters interact with each other. I think the best aspect of co-writing with someone is the interactive nature writing then takes on. It becomes a living thing, not an insular, inverted process.

I wouldn’t change how we write. We each have our own projects we write on singularly—usually short stories or little writing exercises—but for the most part, we write together. It’s the together I love, and I have such a great relationship with K. that I can’t imagine not writing without her. We’re in business together, we write together, and we’re great friends. We plan on taking it a step further and move in together so the writing and publishing goes more smoothly. Right now, our biggest obstacle is that I’m in Florida while she’s in Arizona, and having both our personal friendship and our professional relationship 95% virtual wears on us both.

So, yeah. Co-writing is stressful, frustrating, and hard, but at the same time it’s incredibly rewarding, fun, and so very easy. From conception of an idea to the ultimate publication of a novel, it’s interactive, instantaneous, and social, which is something I found missing in my solitary writing days. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. :)

Another Awesome Cover!
Cast the Cards is currently available from Storm Moon Press in various e-book formats as well as a print volume.

The themes and forces represented by Tarot cards are said to govern our lives and our destinies. The story of the cards is the story of our lives -- the accomplishments and the pitfalls, the path from soaring joy to crushing defeat and back again. "Cast the Cards" is a collection of six all-new short stories that explore snapshots of remarkable individuals trying to make their way along that path.

We would like to thank Chris Kelly for the opportunity to visit and share our thoughts!

You're welcome.

You can find me at or on Twitter, or K. Piet at or on Twitter. :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

My House is Not a Nudist Camp! And Other Things Not As Important!

Well, Nanowrimo officially began at 0am this morning. I'm currently 2000 words into Goblins - was hoping for 3k today but there is a huge pile of ironing and no one has clothes. Slight exaggeration there; my house hasn't turned into a nudist's camp or anything.

Now that the important news is out of the way, some Invictus news - it is currently in the top 80,000 in Amazon U.S. and has a lovely little 4 star review. On Amazon U.K. it is in the top 25,000 and the top 100 for Science Fiction > Adventure books, but no reviews yet.

Ideally, I want 5 reviews on each site - if you haven't read Invictus yet, and you want to review it, drop me an email at Scathachpub and I'll let you have a copy for free.

Invictus isn't selling so good but I never really thought it would (okay, so I had a super sekret fantasy of being number 1 in Amazon, but I found out to my cost some years ago about the danger of fantasy becoming reality*) and the point of Invictus wasn't to sell (although it would be great if it brought in enough money for me to get another book out for free).

I got the cover for Goblins for free, and I'll photoshop the covers for WS parts 1 and 2 and Book 1 myself. That's what I'm hoping to release beidfore Christmas. When these start bringing in money, I can hopefully get the covers done.

After that... well, not to give away all my plans but let's just say I didn't release Invictus first because I thought it was the best (it's the best it can be, but it's not the best I can do) or because it was the first ready.

Closer to now, I've got plans to change the way I use (and think about) social media. More on that by the end of this week.

Anyway, click on the link at the top (the Goblins one) to check in on my nano progress. Who else is doing nano? Buddy me - I'm Indiechris on there.

*It involved two very naked double jointed woman, baby oil, Twister, and a visit to Casualty.**
**That might have been a dream I had. Moral of the story is, kids... don't eat cheese before bed.
And watch where you put the lid from the baby oil...

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Announcing The Second Dun Scaith Blog Carnival

Now that the blog tour is done, and done well, I thought it would be a good time to announce the Second Dun Scaith Carnival. The last blog carnival I did went really well - about eighteen people blogged on why they went Indie.

I personally had over 200 readers spread over 3 days, and my blog was really knew and had never had as many as thirty readers i a day before that.

If you were involved in that carnival, you know the rules. Write a post and I'll link to it. The last time the posts had to all go live the same day - it was a complete nightmare. This time put your post up on Friday or Saturday, I'll do mine on Sunday, and we can all do Monday Mentions on Twitter and Facebook on the Monday.

The Blog Carnival has a subject: If I knew then what I know now... essentially, if you were starting out Indie right now, but had all the knowledge you now possess, what would you do differently?

And if you want involved, post a comment here or shoot me a message on Facebook, Twitter, or by email.

And the date of the carnival is probably going to be... the 13th of December.

Spread the news, people.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Guest Post - Editing - Vix Philips

Right. My name's Vix, and it's Friday down under, and lor' bless those wonderful things called timezones since this guest blog post is due today, UK time. Hello from the future. Anyway, I've been editing a book since July, so when my wonderful host asked me to do a spot over here I did a lot of hand-wringing and head-scratching as to what on earth I could possibly write about before the little lightbulb went on over my head--bing! there it is--oh yes. Editing.

So, editing. Editing, editing, editing, editing. I'm not going to talk about weaving the perfect plot, or description, or characters, or any of that stuff. This is all about what happens *after* you've sent your wee bairn AKA manuscript off to the wilds of beta readers, editors, or simply let your gut (or whatever part of you that hurts the most when it gets punched) make the thing as perfect, story-wise, as you can get it. This is about the part that comes between that and you formatting the thing to go off into the world, with the idea that if you follow at least some of these steps, the amount of expletives you'll need to utter when you see the thing in print/e-book form will be markedly reduced. A how-to guide for the reduction of those niggling little errors I've heard many authors complain about after the fact, in other words.

1. Find and replace.
Wonderful little function, this one. Comes in pretty much all word-processors, as you no doubt know by now. Not just good for changing Jims to Jills, or vice versa, but also for picking up nasty little formatting errors like double spaces after periods, no spaces at all after periods (or commas) and so on.

Found at
Everyone has those words they overuse. This is where wordle comes in handy. You copy and paste your novel into the box, click submit, and back comes a lovely little tag-cloud type thing with the most commonly used words in a nice colourful font right in your face. It ignores the "invisible words" like 'the', 'and', 'then', etc. I do one pass for the entire book (to get a good overview), and one per chapter, in case I've unintentionally overused a more unusual word in a short span of pages. If you see words like "eyes" coming up in a giant font, it may mean you're relying too much on one form of conveying emotion. The main character(s)' names popping up may mean you've gone a bit "Heathcliff!" "Cathy!" in your interactions through dialogue. Other times there are the old bugbears like "just". In general, you can ignore the smaller words--just pay attention to the ones that really stand out as being potentially problematic.

3. Text-to-speech.
Built-in on the Mac platform (Edit menu/Speech/Start Speaking); not sure about Windows, though you can probably download about 20 programs for free that will do the same thing (only one of which is bound to attach a naked picture of Bill Gates every time you send an email to your mum.) And if you're running Linux, well, what do you care, you'll probably write your own program to do it. Anyhow, sit back, relax, and let the dulcet tones of Stephen Hawking read each of your chapters aloud while you follow along on the screen. What this is going to do is immediately pinpoint any words you've missed out that your brain automatically fills in no matter how many times you read the darn passage, and also remind you that you wanted to say, for example, "revise" rather than "revile" right there. It will also help pinpoint repetitive words/phrases.

4. Hunt the Cliché!
There are plenty of trite phrases in common usage. But what about the really clever ones you come up with all on your own, the ones your brain looks at and says, "That's bloody brilliant, that is; I'm gonna use that again." And so it does. On page 10, and page 55, and page 103, and page 229, and-- Anyway, you get the picture. This program runs on Windows, so I've not yet given it a whirl, but apparently it's just for such an occasion (and includes your garden variety clichés), and it's free to try out for up to 20 files. It's called Cliché Cleaner and you can find it at

So, these are some of the best ways I've uncovered to get a cleaner-looking final product. I hope you guys find it useful!

Bio: Vixen Phillips is an Australian writer of dark, mythic, confessional, lyrical fiction, and runs her own indie publishing project Lost Violet Press. Her first full-length novel, Trapdoor, a dark homoerotic love story, is due to be republished before the year's end, and her steampunk series is due out next year. You can find more info about her books at, or stalk her on twitter: @lostvioletpress.