Feeling optimistic…which is nice

Feeling optimistic…which is nice

hereReviewMy new novel has been out for just over a week, and there are already two positive reviews posted online. What’s more, they’re from complete strangers, so I know they’re genuine. This is a much more enthusiastic response to the novel than I had been expecting, and I am hoping it could be a sign that Ranidir’s Heir is going to do well.

The reviews can be found here and here, and there’s a snapshot of my favourite one above.

What does it mean to receive positive feedback? The absolute world. I’ve poured an awful lot of myself into all of my books, but none more so than the latest one. All the time I was writing it I was excited, I barely faltered at any stage, that enthusiasm remaining with me through the entire process. It somehow felt like I was producing something to be proud of, and to have such quick affirmation of that after its release is both a pleasure and such a major relief! It doesn’t matter how many friends and family tell you they think your work is good, you’ll never believe it, not really, until someone completely non-biased weighs in and gives you their own completely neutral opinion.

The human brain is funny like that. “I love you, I trust you, but when it comes to evaluating my work I’d much rather hear from Joe Bloggs over there”. It’s one of the few occasions when a stranger’s opinion is worth so much more than a friend’s, along with “does my bum look big in this”, “how did I sound at karaoke” and “is the spot on my nose noticeable”…

The other thing these two reviews have given me is the drive to crack on and get writing my fifth novel, which will be the third book in the Realm series. The prologue is done, the first chapter is underway, and the broad strokes of the storyline are in place, so if I follow my usual process I will finish this chapter, then make notes on the next few, write another one, make some more notes, and then repeat that process until the notes reach the end of the story and I can simply flesh them out into prose. I don’t know if this is a correct way to write a novel (is there a correct way?) but it works for me. If Ranidir’s Heir is anything to go by, the next one should take me somewhere between 6 and 8 months. It would be amazing if I can get a sequel out in 2017, it would mean I’ve written my first trilogy!

Of course, this latest book could go the way of Novels 2 and 3, and go on to receive a response that could best be described as “tepid”. “Lukewarm” would be stretching it a bit. And if that happens, well, I’ll just roll with it. It would delay the next book because I’d have to stop being a bohemian hippy author and get a proper job (and yes, I realise that looking after my infant son is a proper job, but it pays extremely well in smiles and pride while paying abysmally in actual cash money), but the next book would still get written and released. Because it’s in my brain now and has to come out, and besides, I now know that at least two people in the world would like to read more adventures in the Realm, and that is more than enough incentive for me.

I’ll never stop writing. Being able to do it full time would be a dream come true, but no matter what happens I’ll keep telling my stories and hoping that people like them.

Anyway, enough burbling from me, don’t forget you can get the ebook version of my novels for less than the price of a pint, and the paperback version of Ranidir’s Heir is now available to buy as well. If you do give them a go, I really hope you enjoy them. I’m proud of them, but then I am pretty biased…unlike Debi and Colin from the internet, my two current favourite strangers!

I hope everyone is well and life is treating you gently, thanks as ever for reading…and Stay Frosty, People.

 

Advertisements

Realmborn 2 is coming! (Hopefully along with more frequent blog posts…)

snoopy-writer

First and foremost, apologies to my loyal and avid readers for the lengthy gap between this and my previous post…you must both have been very upset.

There is a good reason for the delay, though, promise! Well, several good reasons, the most obvious being putting the finishing touches on my fourth novel, the sequel to Realmborn. Oh, parenthood, Christmas, hangovers and the occasional bout of sleep got in the way as well, but mainly it was the new book.

As with Realmborn this is a fantasy novel, plenty of swords and sorcery going on, but with a prominent protagonist who hails from good old twenty-first century Britain, allowing for some modern-day narrative alongside the more traditional fantasy “voice”. It’s a mixture which I like to think worked in my first novel, but then I’m the author so I would think that, wouldn’t I? I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and I do hope that people at least try a few bites. Test readings have been very positive, constructive criticism was received and acted upon, and overall I feel that it is my best work yet.

The finishing touches have been applied, and the process of making it available on Amazon has begun. I shall keep you informed as to the release date as and when I know it myself.

One part of the writing process I found particularly difficult was taking on board the feedback and criticisms from my first three novels. It’s never easy to read negative opinions on your work, but I brutally reminded myself that I am, to all intents and purposes, an absolute and complete beginner at this writing lark. I’m still immensely proud of the books I have released, I think they are entertaining, intelligibly written, and well worth the low price they are available for as e-books (less than a pint, even in Wetherspoons), but I have made sure that I took absolutely every bit of criticism on board and have tried to learn from it all.

(Worth noting at this point that I resolutely ignored the person who gave a 1 star rating alongside a review that read something like “just not my cup of tea”. Nothing about the writing, the pace or the storyline, just not up their alley. I mean, seriously? 1 star? Gone With the Wind isn’t really what floats my boat, but I wouldn’t leave a 1 star review. Harry Potter isn’t what I’d choose to sit down and read, but I certainly wouldn’t take the time to tell the world that and then leave the lowest possible Star rating possible! Sorry, rant over, obviously I didn’t ignore it, I found it ridiculously infuriating, but I didn’t let it affect my writing. Hopefully.)

I reread my previous books, trying to be as impartial as I could be, and I think now that there was a very definite reason that I didn’t go straight on to the second book of The Realm as soon as I had finished the first. Silver Soldiers and Metal Blade were great fun to write, and I hope great fun to read, but they were very different beasts to my original fantasy epic. I’m hoping that writing them was a chance and a way to work on my craft, to more definitely find my voice as an author, and as a result that Ranidir’s Heir: A Story of The Realm is a leaner, more tautly written novel than its predecessors, yet one that retains the depth and rich tapestry of interweaving characters and storylines that so many people liked about Realmborn.

It’s got less words in it, anyway.

So, the latest novel available soon, and previous books available on Amazon already (and if you have read and enjoyed any of them, please, please, please take a few minutes to pop on and leave a review. Reviews are like gold for an independent author, letting the world know at a glance that this might be something worth reading. Also like gold in that I rarely see it, seem to have to work very hard to get it, and I can’t wear jewellery made out of it because I’m allergic. No, wait, scrap that last bit, pretty sure that’s just about gold.) I shall make announcements as and when, and I really hope people enjoy reading it.

I’m still a massive Aliens fan, so my sign off will remain the same for the duration, channelling the awesomeness that is Al Matthews’ Sgt Apone.

Stay Frosty, people.

My Third Book…Coming Soon!

My Third Book…Coming Soon!

Today’s image is an arty shot I am thinking of entitling Writer’s Fuel. Presumably with a snappy title like that I’ll have art galleries queuing up to display it!

Looking at it I notice I am low on coffee, I’d best remedy that fairly sharpish, it being my main source of sustenance…

I took a big step today, following feedback from my test readers I’ve finished the final draft of my third novel, a sci-fi story called Metal Blade, and I have begun the process of getting it on Amazon. With a bit of luck it should be available either to purchase as an ebook, to read for free on Kindle Unlimited, or as a paperback sometime in the next two weeks. Watch this space!

Part of the process for submitting the novel is creating a blurb for it, a snappy couple of paragraphs that hopefully entice readers into wanting to see what it’s all about. I’ve gone with the following:

Duane Steele, the cybernetic warrior known as Metal. Tomas Katana, the swordsman known as Blade. Together they were once the most celebrated bounty hunters on New Earth. Now Metal is down on his luck, Blade has retired, and both find themselves being targeted for death by the sinister Science Ministry.

They must join forces with a beautiful assassin to rescue an innocent young man who holds the secret to mankind’s survival, facing their former bounty hunting colleagues, all the power at the disposal of the psychotic Science President, and the lethal attacks of his emotionless, deadly Technical Operative, Frost.

Don’t forget you can read the first chapter here. And of course you can see excerpts from my other two novels, and details of how you can read them in the relevant pages on this site.

There’s no image for the new novel as yet, that’s all part of the process, as soon as I have a cover shot I’ll post it and update the Metal Blade page accordingly.

I’m very excited about this one, possibly even more so than I was about Silver Soldiers, having just re-read it myself I like to think that it is exciting, quick and obviously extremely well-written…fingers crossed readers agree with me!

Just a short post today, exciting things like vacuuming are calling my name, and of course I need to press on with Realmborn 2, which is now a prologue and 8 chapters, chapter 9 is also calling my name, as is a cup of coffee and an Oreo…

Hope everyone is well, Stay Frosty, People

Some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the lamppost

Some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the lamppost

Or some days you’re the cat, some days the litter tray, some days the monkey, some days the person having monkey poo thrown at you…however you like to think of it, the sad fact is that not every day can be a good one. Today was a lamppost/litter tray/faecal matter target kind of a day, which is why this blog is being published at 2AM instead of about 3 hours ago.

I’ll not go into specifics, I firmly believe my personal life should remain personal, but suffice to say that, for one reason and another, I did not get a chance to concentrate on my writing in the way I would have liked today. That one thing and another basically let me get the first 500 words of what turned out to be a 3000 word chapter done during the day, and I didn’t manage to get back to my keyboard till about 9.30.PM.

By 11PM I was starting to wonder about calling it quits and just finishing the damn thing tomorrow (later today, now), but by that point it had me, and there was no walking away. And so, at 1.40AM, I finally stopped typing, satisfied, happy and content…and then remembered that I’d foolishly tweeted to say that I would update my blog tonight. (I realise that there’s maybe five of you out there who regularly ready either my tweets or my blog, but I really wouldn’t want to let you down…)

And so I am blogging. Also, I apologise at the low quality of the picture today. Lighting is dim, my eyes are half closed, my beer’s gone warm…that is a classic “Almost 2 in the morning, why the **** am I blogging?!?!!?” pic.

Don’t get me wrong, by the way. I am not always as obsessive about finishing a chapter, and often I will leave it. But this one…well, it had reached a point where it was gripping me, and I always feel that’s when I do my best writing, so I persevered. And I’m glad I did, because I’m really proud of that chapter.

I’ll put up some teaser chapters of the new Realmborn novel soon, not tonight because my brain is foggy and in need of rest, but soon, though I reiterate that you should avoid these if you’ve not read the first one.

Oh, and good news, sales of Silver Soldiers are starting to pick up, but I could still do with reviews on both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (and Goodreads.com for that matter), so if anyone has read it and would like to leave an honest review, or if you know someone who’s read it and feel like asking them to leave an honest review, please do so. Reviews are what we, as independent authors, rely on. Well, that and the kindness of rich older ladies who like our poetry and enjoy buying us things…

OK, it’s 2.04AM, been a bit of a day but hey, got a chapter done that I’m pleased with, can I ask for more than that? Well, yes, I can ask, but I’m unlikely to get it, so let’s take what we can get, right?

Stay Frosty, People. Unless you’re asleep, in which case Stay Asleep, People.

How do I let the world know about my books?

OK, so I’ve taken the plunge and decided to write full time, I’ve now got two novels on Amazon and am on the verge of releasing a third. I believe in my books, in their quality, in the fact that they are an entertaining read, but how on earth do I let the world know that? Or even that they exist?

My first novel, Realmborn, did really well, though I am racking my brains to remember how long it took for it to begin to be successful. I feel like it wasn’t that long, but in any case it was the success of this book that convinced me I could give this authoring malarkey a go.

Realmborn

My second novel, Silver Soldiers, has been available for purchase for a little over three weeks, and so far if you’re not related to me or one of my best friends, it’s unlikely that you’re one of the dozen people who have bought it. In fact Realmborn is still outselling it…the galling thing in my mind is that I feel that the writing in the second novel is sharper, crisper, more engaging, I just need people to give it a chance. For this to happen they need to know of its existence.

IMG_4518

So, how do I attract attention for my books? Well, apparently reviews are the thing which help drive Amazon sales, so this morning I dedicated my life to contacting independent book reviewers and asking them very politely if they wouldn’t mind having a gander at my latest work. It was a very, very dull, repetitive morning, and I have n idea if they will even get back to me, let alone if it will do any good. But it was something to try. And as a fledgling author, feeling his way through the murky waters of self-publishing, doing something is far, far better than doing nothing.

Where there is life there is hope, as they say. So I guess where there is the potential for reviews there is hope, in my case.

Of course, if anyone reading this would like to give my books a go and leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads, please do feel free! The first chapters of each book are now available on this website, along with links to where they can be bought or read for free on Kindle Unlimited. (Realmborn here and Silver Soldiers here, for ease.) And if you like them, please do tell a friend…or ten!

I remain optimistic, I have faith in my books, and faith that people will love them, if given the chance. And so I will follow the advice I always give, and try not to freak out too much. Early days yet, plenty of time for miracles to occur and my hard work to pay off.

Hope life I treating everybody well, and as always…

…Stay Frosty, People.

Memories of a Good Man

Memories of a Good Man

Tomorrow is the 8th of April, my brother’s birthday. He would have been 40 years old, so tomorrow is a BIG day for myself and my family. Ordinarily I like to keep my blog fairly free of details of my private life, focussing more on my writing and novels, but as he has been on my mind so much in the last few days I felt that today’s blog should be all about him.

Mark Richard Eastman was a good man. Not perfect, not a saint, but a genuinely good guy. Sadly he was taken from us at the age of 33 by cancer, a brain tumour to be more precise. 33 is far too young for a good man to leave this world, and now, 7 years on, there is not a single day that goes by when he is not missed. By me, by my younger brother, by my parents, by his wife Marie, and I am sure by scores and scores of others.

Small things will remind me of him, or make me think of him. I can’t listen to any Iron Maiden music without picturing him as he was when he and I went to see them live in London a decade or so ago. I can’t use my iPad without thinking “Mark would have loved iPads” (he was always a gadget man, and incredibly tech-savvy), I can’t play computer games without remembering the many, many, many hours we spent as children playing on the BBC B (an ancient computer that you plugged into the telly, for anyone too young to remember), then on the Nintendo (anyone else remember Duck Hunt?) and then the PS2 (oh, the hours of our lives we wasted on Baldur’s Gate and Grand Theft Auto). And any time I achieve something in my life, or have problems and need to talk to someone, or I just want to share a funny story, the absence of him shreds my heart all over again.

He loved curry, and introduced me to some amazing dishes, and amazing curry houses. He enjoyed real ale, and tomorrow I will be raising a pint of Hobgoblin in his honour. He was an absolute whizz with anything technical or computer-ey, and I can’t believe he is not here to see that his Luddite brother now has his own website. He loved his wife, and I hope he knows that she is still loved in his absence by those he left behind, and always will be. He loved Sunderland football club, and though I am not the biggest football fan in the world I religiously follow their results and celebrate/get depressed by their victories/defeats, for him.

He was also kind, and generous, and always available when I needed him. My largest regret in life is that there were a few years in my late teens/early twenties when we didn’t speak/see each other as often as we previously had or then went on to do, and the blame for that is entirely mine. I was young, self-involved and far too interested in my own life to the exclusion of everything else in the world. Mark, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I am sorry for the wasted time (wasted often being the operative word when thinking about those years) and if I could go back and do it over I would spend so much more time with you than I did.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Do we ever spend enough time with those we love? Life is short, and fleeting, and we never know what is going to come round the corner and knock us on our backsides. We never know what will happen to make a mockery of our plans, to ensure that those things that we put off never actually get done. “I’ll call him tomorrow”. “I’ll go see them next month, this month is far too busy”. “Maybe next year”.

Screw that, I say, don’t put off those phone calls, don’t put your faith in the fact that there’ll be another chance next month, or next year, or in five years’ time, don’t postpone the things that are really important for the sake of work/finances/rubbish. Because life might just surprise you and then you’ll have missed your chance.

My brother was a good man, he is missed, and I guess the whole point of this cathartic blog is for me to say out loud to the world that I regret not having spent more time with him when I could. He would have been 40 tomorrow, and we should have been having one hell of a party to celebrate. Instead I will be ordering a curry, having a beer and trying to remember the good times without focussing too much on just how much he is missed.

Mark Richard Eastman, good man, great brother, fantastic husband, and I now he would have been an amazing uncle. You are missed, Mark, you are loved, and you are in our minds and hearts, now and always.

I don’t think I can follow my own advice on this occasion, but it’s good advice anyway.

Stay Frosty, People.

Wow, I am rubbish at blogging

Wow, I am rubbish at blogging

So it occurred to me this evening that I am terrible at this whole self-marketing thing, quite possibly a massive detriment to an aspiring independent author who has taken the plunge to concentrate on writing full time…

I now have two novels on Amazon, a fantasy epic called Realmborn, and a more contemporary sci-fi thriller called Silver Soldiers (more details and info on how to buy them can be found on this site) and with my last paycheque from my previous employment rapidly dwindling I have been aiming for writing a chapter a day on my third novel, a Sci Fi actioner called Metal Blade. So far, twelve days, twelve chapters, all very successful.

The problem is my routine-oriented brain has got me into the habit of finishing a chapter, sending it to my test readers, then shutting down my trusty tablet and breathing a self-satisfied sigh of relief…instead of reaching out to the potential gazillions of people who might have an interest in the inner workings of my midnight-oil burning sleep-deprived mind. OK, the dozen or so people who might find it vaguely amusing. OK, just in case anyone ever stumbles across it by chance.

So tonight I finished my chapter, emailed it to my test readers, and shut down my tablet…then kicked myself, poured a beer and booted it back up. This, then, will be my new routine (hopefully without shutting it down and needing to reboot every time), a chapter, a reward, and some blogging. Sometimes short, sometimes lengthy. Sometimes to do with my life and work, sometimes about what I’ve just watched on the TV. Or, as I am now in the literary world, comments on anything I’ve read, almost certainly plucked from the massive pool of quality work by my fellow independent authors.

Tonight’s reward is a pint of Hobgoblin, a particular favourite of mine, a good, dark English real ale, very much at odds with my love of good American country music, which I have playing in the background. Kip Moore, if anyone cares to google and take a chance, That Was Us is the track I am currently listening to.

I hope that if anyone does enjoy this that they will follow my ramblings and gain some amusement from them, and if I’m just screaming into an empty void, what the hell, at least I’m trying.

As I am fond of saying to anyone panicking/getting angry/stressing out…

Stay Frosty, People.