Tuesday, 27 January 2015

WOVEN Release Day!

Today, I'm helping to "thread" the word for a book by two very talented authors, that's been a long time coming. It's had a few ups and downs on its road to publication, but I think it'll be worth the wait! Ladies and gentlemen, I present "Woven" by David Powers King and Michael Jensen.


WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Available now wherever books are sold

iTunes             

About the Authors:

Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld

Links:


David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen

Links:


Praise for Woven:
"It’s not often that you read a fantasy that feels as epic and original as Woven by King and Jensen. Clever, well-paced, and full of intrigue, it’s a superb read. Highly recommended."
— James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner
"WOVEN reads like a lost classic that was somehow just rediscovered. It has the feel of a comfortable, familiar blanket that's somehow been newly-made of the brightest, most original material possible, and it is pure pleasure to read."
 James A. Owen, author & illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons
"The worldbuilding is dynamic, original and intriguing … and the characters, appealing. A sure bet for high-fantasy fans." — Kirkus Reviews
"This brisk adventure from first-time authors Jensen and King is a charming quest tale in classic fantasy tradition." — Publisher’s Weekly

Rafflecopper Giveaway Link (One of 5 copies of Woven – signed by both authors):


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Lessons from Journalism and the Joy of Non-Fiction

This post is, I guess, an extension of the previous goals I posted for this year. 2015 for me is about going back to the grass roots of why I enjoy writing, and that means all kinds of writing. I like writing non-fiction. In fact, the first thing I did when taking tentative steps towards a writing career was press releases for my sixth form college at 16. While taking a year out globetrotting I kept a travelogue of all the places I'd been. And then I enrolled for a qualification in journalism in Glasgow, and was lucky enough to get a reporter's position at my local paper.

I miss it. I miss the buzz of uncovering facts, doing interviews and getting a great quote. I think I've been so obsessed with developing my fiction writing that I forgot the pleasure that can be gained from a well-honed article. Furthermore, there are lessons to be learned from journalism that we can apply to our fiction. What's interesting about the story? Who are the main players, what troubles have they seen and what are their triumphs? In journalism you have to find the most important thread and put that front and centre.

So this year I'm going to devote more effort to my freelance writing career by pitching some article ideas to paying markets on topics I enjoy writing about. I know a bit about being a step-parent, raising a disabled child and coping with the loss of a child. Plus, all the ephemera that swirls about my head to do with music, movies and historical figures has to be useful for something.

I also need to get over the idea I'm not good enough. I'm qualified, people have said I'm alright, I need to start having more faith in myself if I'm going to get anywhere.

I'm also going to restart the goal to write and submit one short story a month. I spaced on it in January as I was just getting back into the swing of things after the holiday, but I'm definitely going to refocus on this in February.

Do you enjoy non-fiction? I know we all do it via blogging, but do you enjoy reading it or writing in-depth articles? Do you think fiction and non-fiction have lessons to teach each other?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

IWSG

It's the first Insecure Writers' Support Group meeting of 2015! The group was set up to share writerly woes and offer support and encouragement to others. I hope all members have an enjoyable and productive year.

EDIT: I forgot today was the day for introductions, so I'm adding this in here before I get to my insecurity!

I'm Nick, a former print journalist now mining the realms of fiction with a little freelance writing and editing on the side. I also do a paper round seven days a week, so I guess you could say that's also in the field of written media! Over the course of various experiments, I have discovered my passion lies in the speculative side of fiction, taking in science fiction, dystopian, and I hope to add a little fantasy to that list one day. My favourite author of all time is Terry Pratchett, although it would be impossible to pick a favourite book of his. I've included a little of my publication plans underneath this intro.

I'm married, with two stepdaughters and one daughter. As many of you know, my stepson Andrew passed away in November 2013. Andrew was a wee fighter all his life, and he's now my guardian angel and inspiration. We've got three dogs - Pippa, Rudi and Tobi, and we'll be adding little Charlie to the pack in February.

I find it hard to pick a favourite movie, but my favourite TV show is Red Dwarf, especially the "shrinking boxer shorts" scene. I'm sure this is available on YouTube if you want to know what I'm talking about!

You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Now onto the "insecurity" portion of today's post...

I guess my insecurity this month is the prospect of publication. I posted on Monday about my goals for the year, including publication of my collection in May and my trilogy starting in 2016.

But how do you know when things are right? These days it seems the ebook market in particular is saturated, more and more books are being released every day, and it's getting harder and harder to stand out. The best promotion, I hear, is to have many books available, but I worry that rushing will sacrifice quality. It takes me a very long time to do anything.

I guess the answer is to be even more focused on task. Reduce non-essential elements of life and make every editing or writing stint count for something. Try not to worry about outside pressures such as promotion - although that's hard. And know when to let go - even though it's not perfection, get as close as you can.

What are your experiences of publication? How do you deal with the stress of deadlines, be they self-imposed or from a publisher? How do you know when a book is ready?

Be sure to visit some of the other fine IWSG bloggers here.

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 Roundup and 2015 Goals

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a stress-free festive season, and you're suitably rested and getting stuck into a productive 2015.

2014 got off to a slow start. We had just lost Andrew the previous November and I was drifting aimlessly, not sure what to do with myself. I did write one short story to try to make sense of the situation, but it was the A-Z Challenge and reconnecting with some of you wonderful writers that made me realise doing what I love was the only thing that would get me through. Nothing is certain, so I redoubled my commitment to give my writing career everything I've got. I made a start on Part 2 of my YA dystopian fantasy, writing 38,024 words from May to August. I also made a submission to Write Club. However, I then seemed to hit another slump with the story, although I was honoured to contribute to some excellent anthologies during this time. When NaNoWriMo rolled around, it was a great opportunity to power through the story without listening to the inner editor too much, and I'm pleased to say I accomplished this, finishing Part 2 and writing the majority of a prequel novella which I had the idea for during November. I only wrote about 2000 words in December, but it was enough to finish my novella, so from going from not even knowing if I would do any more writing I eventually drafted two books and wrote over 90,000 words. I hope to do much better this year.

So, to those goals. I aim to write Part 3 of my trilogy and get all three plus the novella edited and polished for release starting in 2016. Maybe this will come sooner, but for now I'm giving myself plenty of time to get everything right. In the meantime I have another project I'm very excited about - a novella I wrote a couple of years ago, tentatively titled "A Change of Mind", which I intend to publish in May, together with some previously published stories. My novella is a speculative science fiction piece, quite dark in tone, and the other stories have a similar feel so I think they'll go quite well together. Looking forward to sharing more details on this once they're firmed up!

Other goals - read and review more fellow bloggers' books. I read some excellent ones in 2014, but I've been quite remiss on reviewing them. I need to address that!

Spend more quality time with the kids.

What are your goals for 2015?

I'll be back on Wednesday for this year's first installment of the IWSG. Got your copy of the IWSG book yet? I've been loving soaking up all the great nuggets of wisdom and inspiration!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

IWSG Anthology - Out Now!

Yes, it's a great day for the IWSG as its very own "Guide to Publishing and Beyond" is out now, completely gratis! I was very proud to contribute to this tome which is chock full of advice on anything and everything to do with writing, publishing and marketing. Having read some of the posts from the bloghop I can vouch that this is a fantastic resource for anyone at any stage of the game, from the members of the IWSG who have been through the battles. I look forward to reading the rest of the entries I missed. Get it at AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo and Smashwords.

So onto my post for this month. Well my insecurity is something that I imagine a fair few writers have some trouble grappling with - money. Now, I know that very few writers go into the game hoping they will clean up - if they do, they're either doing it for the wrong reasons or they're suffering under an illusion. I accept that I'm never going to make megabucks from my writing. My insecurity stems from how this relates to everyday life. We have three kids, Christmas is nipping at our heels, and I can't help sometimes feeling guilty for not contributing enough. I've got my paper round, I'm continuing with my freelance writing and editing which, by nature, ebbs and flows. I never earn more than £250 in a week. I feel I'm doing what I can as the stay-at-home parent, but then my wife's working-at-home business has taken off in a big way and is almost earning as much as her day job.

I don't know, I've never been very savvy with money and don't feel like I've got the right sort of brain for it. It was always a bone of contention that the short stories I had published were unpaid. For me, the achievement was getting the publishing credits and the satisfaction that someone had deemed my words worthy of putting into print. I recently submitted a story to an ezine after a friend had success with the venue. It was rejected, but it was that Holy Grail of rejections, containing personal feedback! That was very exciting, and made me feel like I was halfway towards being paid for a piece of fiction for the very first time. Still, though, the payment was three dollars. Not a big difference to our bank balance, but money all the same.

I'm now looking at setting a goal of writing and submitting one short story a month with payment, but instead of this and the freelance stuff, should I be pursuing some sort of other work that offers a more regular income? I really don't know what else I'd do that would fit around my home responsibilities. I'm good at writing and I don't get any complaints.

Sorry for rambling on here. I guess my question is, if you write for no or very little money and spend a lot of time on it, do you feel guilty about that? How do you deal with it?

Be sure to visit the other IWSG bloggers here!

Monday, 1 December 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - Winner!

Yes! I did it. It was a long month of computer crashes and 4am starts, but I did it and wrapped up 50,000 words early on Sunday. Right in the middle of a crucial scene, too - so I've let myself have one day off today and then back on it tomorrow. After all, writing isn't just done during November, right?

I'd say it was a productive month with Part 2 of my trilogy finished and 17,000 words of my novella prequel written. It will probably require another 10k or so to be done. I had no idea this novella would even exist before NaNo started, so even though I started out by continuing previous work, it still threw up surprises! It was nice to work on something different but still related. I must admit I hit a slight slump during the middle of the month, which equated to the end of Part 2. Endings are always tricky for me and I need to regroup before starting Part 3. Nevertheless, I'm excited about the progress that has been made and looking forward to seeing how it all turns out. Also, I said hello to repetitive phrasing, clumsy constructions and other first draft sins - which I'd always been quite precious about, but that's why it took me so long to write drafts! I learnt from NaNo that getting the story out comes first.

So that's it. I'll try to get back to a regular blogging schedule this month, too.

How was your month? Did you NaNo? Did it go well for you?

Monday, 17 November 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - Halfway There!

No, it's not halfway through the month, I realise we're already past that, but I am halfway through my NaNo 2014 effort. Today, I typed my 25,000th word. I've been consistently a couple of days behind since the start, but that's okay. I only need 1,786 per day to finish on time, not much over 1,667.

So, yeah, I'm just here to stick my head over the parapet and let you know how I'm doing this month. I've been typing furiously away, and certainly never written 25k in 17 days before, so I consider that a win already. If you've never tried NaNo, or are perhaps cynical about the value of writing just for the sake of obtaining a speed goal, try it! It's really not all about the word count. NaNo, for me, is about trying to instill good habits of writing, writing consistently, and writing around whatever hazards might fly into your path. I didn't really get started until Day 3 - I'm unused to writing on a weekend, and hadn't written for two months beforehand (tsk!), so I wasn't prepared for that first Saturday. Then, my laptop threw a major wobbler and wouldn't connect or open Word, so I scrawled on several sheets of good old-fashioned paper until Day 6, when I decided to hunt down my stepdaughter's forgotten laptop (she does everything on her iPad these days). I'm still using it and have just about got used to the smaller screen.

About those consistent habits - I really do think it's great that NaNo makes you write every day. I've made up for that first weekend and haven't missed a day since. I do a paper round seven days a week, and have been getting up at 4am on weekends to get my writing in first, up to 2000 words. I maybe wouldn't do so much in the future, but on the Mondays I've been able to easily pick up where I left off, whereas Mondays in the past I've been banging my groggy head on the desk trying to pull myself back into the "zone". So, thanks NaNo! I've learnt stuff I can apply going forward.

I'm carrying on my YA trilogy that I actually started during NaNo 2012, so it's quite fitting in a way. Except I'm not sure it will be a trilogy any more - when I finish Part 2, I'm really not sure what will come next, although that may yet reveal itself. I'll finish Part 2 before I finish 50,000 words, and I do have ideas for a prequel that will go into more depth about the events that led to the worlds we first encounter in Part 1. Maybe this will then be Part 1, or maybe 1 and 2 will become one longer work, plus a prequel - I'm open to all possibilities at the moment. Oh, and apparently, I'm not a rebel any more for carrying on a previous work. Hey ho, there's my image ruined!

And here's a little extract - it might be rough, but I've been learning to get over that. Everything needs editing anyway, and getting the story down should come first!

                                                                                *

“Where am I?” he said, blinking and trying to make out any shapes in the darkness. But once his nostrils registered the overpowering odour of wet fish, he had his answer before Ez could give it to him.

“The cargo deck, hence the delightful scent. Don’t try to get up,” she said, her voice rising in alarm. “You need to rest that arm for tonight at least. Tomorrow you’ll have to try and walk, as we’ll arrive and Kriftey needs to take the boat back home. We made a makeshift splint.”

“Yeah, I... kind of remember,” said Welles. The pain in his arm was now a low ache that throbbed rhythmically every few seconds. “This’d better heal up quick, ‘cos once I get my hands on the bastard who did this...”

“Sshhh,” said Ez, as if soothing a baby. “Don’t think about that right now. That’s your problem, you get carried away thinking about what everything means instead of focussing on the here and now.”

With his head turned to the side, Welles could now discern the looming shape of the fish crates stacked all along the wall. At least the pungent smell gave him something to distract him from the pain.

“But that’s what you’re like too. That’s why I liked you, because you thought like me, which is why we’ve got to this point.”

Ez let out a heavy sigh. “Yes, I know, but... sometimes it’s better to just look at what we know for certain and deal with that. We don’t know any of the other stuff for certain.”

“Yeah, I guess. You’re really smart, Ez. Where’s Mal, by the way?”

“Right here.” His voice came from Welles’s other side.

“Strong and silent type , as usual,” said Ez.

“There’s something to be said for that,” said Welles. “Sometimes I wish I could just shut the hell up.”

They all fell into a silence after that, but it was a busy silence, each processing their own thoughts as the boat moved rhythmically through the water. At least the weather seemed to have calmed down.


“You know, things could be worse,” said Ez casually. “You could have broken your leg. Walking would have been a real challenge, then.”

                                                                                  *

If you're doing NaNo, how's it going? What else are you up to in November?