Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IWSG - February 2016

Time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh started this group so writers of all stripes could share their doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged.


Well.

It's not been the best start to the month.

You don't go out for a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll with your dogs in a sleepy semi-rural area and expect to become the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack.

Yet that's what happened to me three days ago.

The day started out well. It was my stepdaughter's 19th birthday. She'd had ten friends staying over in the living room in sleeping bags. As chaotic as this sounds, and given that a fair bit of alcohol was involved, responsible Hannah ensured that no one got too incapacitated by also providing copious amounts of pizza. We heard more noise coming from our seven-year-old's DVD in the next room. Everyone left or was picked up by 10.30am and Hannah tidied up. Great. 

Then just after 2pm I took two of our four dogs out. One of our pups had had his operation to get his boys' bits removed and so I left another of the pack behind to keep him company.

This is a nice walk along a road past fields and a few houses. After about 45 minutes it reaches a junction with a slightly more major road. I usually turn either left or right, walk up a little bit and then head back. This day I headed right. There's a row of eight houses here, only on one side of the road. I walked up the right hand side past open land (so I would be facing oncoming traffic), then crossed and headed back down past the houses.

As I walked past one property I noticed a man staring out of the window at me. He didn't look particularly happy but I thought nothing of it and carried on.

I walked past a piece of dog waste on the pavement and the next thing I knew I heard shouting from behind me. I turned to see it was the man who had been looking out the window, pointing out the poo and shouting at me to pick it up. From the outset, he was highly aggressive. In spite of this, I walked back towards the spot and tried to explain that neither of my dogs had left it. Of course they hadn't. I'm a responsible dog owner and an upstanding citizen. I told him that I always picked up poos and pulled poop bags out of my pocket to show him.

He didn't listen to a single bit of this and just kept screaming at me to pick it up, using some choice language. He also raised his fist in a threatening gesture.

At this point, a second, younger and heavier man ran out of the house and after a few seconds, punched me in the face. He was acting even more aggressive than the first man, but this still came as a shock. I then picked up the waste for fear of what else would happen to me.

The older man then told me that if I'd just picked it up, that wouldn't have happened to me. He then rolled up his trouser leg to show that one of my dogs had bitten him, as if he was the victim in the situation. I didn't notice, I was too busy getting assaulted. And what exactly do you expect?

I don't have a phone (it needs a new charger) so I walked almost an hour home with my nose dripping blood the whole way. My wife phoned the police as soon as I walked in and after speaking to them and going to point out the offenders' house we went to the local A&E. I knew I had a black eye, but it turned out I'd been punched hard enough to fracture my eye socket and break my nose. I've got appointments at two separate clinics for these.

I won't go into the ins and outs of the police investigation but we hope there can be a decent result despite the fact the culprits, who we suspect are related, have concocted a story to protect the assailant.

In terms of feeling insecure about it, well, I definitely am. My face feels sore and tight, I get recurring headaches and tire easily, and I haven't felt like working since the incident. Forgive me if I'm not online so much over the next little while, but I'll try my best to return all comments.

In the long run, though, I'm not going to let it affect how I live my life. Why should it? No, I won't walk the dogs on my own again, and no, I won't walk that way again. But I'm not going to be put off stepping out of my front door by the fact that people like this exist in the world, and two of them live in the same small town as myself. If I become afraid, then they'll truly have won. I'm hoping to get back to writing shortly. I don't want my schedule to be interrupted for too long.

Has anything like this happened to you? How did you deal with it?

Don't forget to visit other IWSG participants here!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Goals Round-Up for January

Happy Friday, folks!

Well, we've nearly reached the end of the first month of 2016. Don't know about you, but January has seemed to last longer than the whole of last year. Maybe it's the extreme levels of weather we've been having - nothing compared to the east coast of the US though, and I hope all my friends over there are OK. We dodged a bullet, as my wife and stepdaughters flew home from a trip to New York just a week before the blizzard hit. If the timing had been different, they might well have still been there now, holed up in a hotel room and running out of money... However, Scotland has been battered by extreme wind, rain and flooding. Here's hoping things improve next month.

So, onto my first goal wrap-up of the month. I'll be posting these on the last weekday of each month - the idea is to keep myself accountable while also having a record of my progress. Most of these are rolling goals for each month, but a few will be individual tasks - if I don't tick them off in a certain month, they'll roll over to the next.

* Finish a first draft of Book 3 of my trilogy.

Well, I've started. Currently, I've got 6000 words - not as much as I would have liked, but I've been doing more freelance work than usual. The important thing is that I've written almost every day, even if just 200 words. The plan for next month is to keep that regularity going while upping the wordcount.

* Perform final edits on Book 1, Black and White, engage a cover artist and prepare for release before the end of the year.


Not done any of these yet.

* Get Book 2 and the series' prequel novella out to CPs during the early part of the year.


I contacted my brilliant CPs just before writing this post, so I'm just waiting to hear back in terms of schedules and so on.

* Aim to participate in Write1Sub1 by writing and submitting one short story per month.

I accomplished half of this goal - I didn't write a new story, but I submitted the story that didn't make the cut for the IWSG anthology to a handful of markets.


* Continue promotion for my short story collection, aiming to make more use of avenues such as Twitter, Facebook/Goodreads groups, and promo spots.

Yes. This month I focused on trying Facebook, as it's something I've not really used much. I joined a couple of promo groups and posted about my book.

* Eat healthily and keep up regular exercise via daily dog walks.


For the first part, I did OK, although I ate quite a bit of chocolate. Definitely did the second part, although the weather has been too wild the last few days.

* Post monthly goal round-ups at the end of each month.


Well, yes. Here I am!

For next month, I plan to do more of all of the above.

How did you do for progress this month? Do you set weekly, monthly, or yearly goals?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Undead Road blog tour

Hello, friends! I'm here today with a post from our good friend and Lord of the Cosmic Laire, David Powers King. David recently released his zombie-tastic novel The Undead Road and he's here to tell us about just how he fell in love with all things zombie...


For the Love of Zombies: Why I’m Writing about the Undead

Thanks for having me, Nick! I’d like to introduce you and your blog followers to my first stab at self-publishing. It’s called The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer Part One. It’s about a 15-year-old boy named Jeremy whose family is caught up in a zombie apocalypse just when he’s coming of age and decides that girls are cute. This makes a dating life pretty much impossible, more so when the family goes on a road trip for a safe house halfway across the country.

Why am I writing zombies now? Truth is, I’ve always wanted to craft a story about the undead, but never really knew how to go about it. What was available in my youth didn’t really speak to me, mostly since the focus was on horror. It was considered horror, and I wasn’t exactly a fan of that. Resident Evil changed the way I viewed zombies, since those monsters entered the scene in a more science fiction capacity. And then, after watching the first episode of The Walking Dead, the idea finally clicked. I decided to write a humorous zombie novel with all the feels and all the chills. I went to work, found the voice I wanted in Jeremy, and enjoyed every moment of writing his story. Now I’m busily working on Part Two, which will only get more exciting from here on.


The Undead Road is also available on Amazon.uk!

Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One
Publisher: Dashboard Books / CreateSpace
Ebook Release: January 2st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover by Steven Novak
Edited by Reece Hanzon

Blurb:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Kindle Store

For the week of the tour (January 25th-29th), The Undead Road is only 0.99 cents in the Kindle store - woo! Also, the paperback releases today and will be a great addition to any shelf.

Praise for The Undead Road:

"For me, zombie stories are never about the killing. They're about the survivors and how people deal with the apocalypse. To this undead end, David Powers King has come up with the most original spin on zombies I've ever read." - Michael Offutt, author of Slipstream and Oculus

Contest Details:

Visit davidpowersking.com and leave and comment and/or tweet about The Undead Road (at least once) for a chance to win a free ebook. One out of every 10 comments and tweets is a winner! Use the Twitter Button below to ensure the author will see your tweet. Thank you!



About the Author:


David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

White Light blog tour

Today I'm helping out Anna Simpson, also known as Emaginette, with the blog tour for her newly released cozy mystery, White Light. She has some thoughts for us on short stories. Take it away, Anna...


Nick, thanks for letting me stop by.
We both have a love of short stories. I’m sure your readers are familiar with yours. I’ve only done a few. Shorts are when I let my imagination sky rocket and I write without an outline. I’ve written about dragons, castles, space, video games, and murder.
Not all in the same story, but some plotlines overlap.
I’m not sure how Aunt Alice, Mrs. Perkins, and Emma would do facing a dragon. They drive each other crazy enough without imaginary creatures walking across their front lawns. Mrs. Perkins would have a bird if someone or something messed with her perfect half acre of green.
So it’s fortunate they only have to solve a murder.
The heroes in mysteries can be anyone—young, not so young, even dead. All they need is the drive to stand strong. Stay determined. Strive for justice. And in one case slip into a living body. I feel pretty lucky with my group of heroes.
When you read a story, is it all about the characters that keep you turning the pages or is there something else on your mind? Tell me. I’d love to know. :-)
Purchase Links:
Author Links:

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

IWSG - The start of a new year

Welcome to 2016 and the year's first group posting of the incredible Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a safe place for writers of all stripes to vent their fears and insecurities. Posts are the first Wednesday of each month and the co-hosts for January are L.G. KeltnerDenise CoveySheri LarsenJ.Q. RoseChemist Ken and Michelle Wallace.


At this time of year, many of us are, of course, looking ahead and setting plans and goals for the coming year. I've never been a huge goal-setter - I have general plans rather than finely detailed goals - but I guess that could change this year. If I've got an insecurity at the moment, it's that I didn't achieve nearly as much last year as I would have liked. I dread to use the term writer's block, but I really was stuck on the last book of the trilogy I've been working on for over three years now - I couldn't come up with a good angle. However, having had something of a breakthrough in the closing days of the year (and written 1500 words - not much but it's a start), I feel ready to start 2016 with a fresh focus. So, here are my goals:

* Finish a first draft of Book 3 of my trilogy. (The big one. I'm setting a rough deadline of the end of June for this one, but hopefully I will be done before then.)

* Perform final edits on Book 1, Black and White, engage a cover artist and prepare for release before the end of the year.

* Get Book 2 and the series' prequel novella out to CPs during the early part of the year.

* Aim to participate in Write1Sub1 by writing and submitting one short story per month.

* Continue promotion for my short story collection, aiming to make more use of avenues such as Twitter, Facebook/Goodreads groups, and promo spots. This is challenging for me, but I need to push myself more in this department.

* Eat healthily and keep up regular exercise via daily dog walks. I can definitely do the second part. They don't exactly give me a choice!

* Post monthly goal round-ups at the end of each month. This is a new one for me, but I'm hoping it'll be another way of staying focused and on track.

Well, all that should keep me busy. Here's to a productive 2016! How about you? Do you set goals? What would you like to achieve this year?

Check out other IWSG postings here.

Friday, 11 December 2015

White Light cover reveal





White Light
by
Anna Simpson
Publisher:
Three Worlds Press
Genre: Cozy
Release Date:
December 22/2015



About The Book:

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it's haunted with guilt?

Author Links:


About the Author:

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she's lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn't able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.

She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word -- emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you'll see what I mean. :-)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

IWSG - December 2015

Well, here we are at the final IWSG posting of December 2015. This year seems to have gone by in a flash for me - more on that below. First of all, if you don't know what the Insecure Writer's Support Group is, it's a highly recommended monthly bloghop for all writers - where we can share our various fears and worries without fear of being judged. It's the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the co-hosts for the December posting are Sandra HooverMark KoopmansDoreen McGettiganMegan Morgan and Melodie Campbell.


So yeah. December. With the end of the year upon us, it feels like a good time to reflect on where we are and how far we have come. I thought I would get more writing done this year. I just, yesterday, wrote an outline for the third book in my YA trilogy. I think I've finally found an angle that will make the threat in this book more of a threat, rather than being dispatched with easily. So that's good. I thought I would have the book written by now, but life doesn't always work like that. This year, many things have been going on that aren't about writing, and that's okay. We moved to a house that feels much more comfortable for us, and which has given us all a fresh start. Got another puppy at the beginning of the year who's slotted into the pack well with his endearing cheekiness. I started a full-time editing gig, and my wife is running two home businesses that I also help out with. My older stepdaughter started a new college course closer to home that is working out much better for her. So there's a lot on our plate, but it's all good stuff. Sometimes you need time away from a project for it to properly come together. I'm still happy with the short stories I wrote this year, but this month, and next year, are definitely going to be about writing this book. I'm thinking about keeping myself accountable here, with goal updates and wordcounts. We'll see.

In other news, I didn't participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but congratulations to any of you who did, whether you completed 50,000 words or not. It's always an exhilarating, worthwhile experience.

And finally, I'm feeling bittersweet because I just finished reading The Shepherd's Crown, the final book in the wonderful Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. What can I say? Funny, nostalgic, heartbreaking, warm, uplifting, inspiring, and more. The end of my favourite series by my favourite author, that I've been reading for over 25 years. I'm going to try to get a review together soon to post here.

How are you feeling about life and writing as we near the end of 2015?

Don't forget to check out the other great IWSG contributors here!