Writing


Read the new Astronomicon #1 on Wattpad for #FREE!

Inception Point front cover artI’ve already posted the first 27 chapters of Astronomicon: Inception Point on Wattpad and I’m trying to post a new chapter every day! If all goes to plan, I’ll have all fifty chapters posted before this time next month.

I haven’t decided yet if I will leave it up on Wattpad indefinitely but it will be there for at least 30 days after the final chapter is posted. Ultimately, I’ll be publishing it on Amazon. In the meantime, I’m looking for feedback and I’m especially keen to hear what you all like (or don’t like) about each of the chapters. Please don’t feel shy about leaving comments. Feedback can be extremely helpful.

If you like a chapter, please, please vote for it. It helps me target those chapters that need improvement by looking out for those with lower vote ratios.

 

Read Astronomicon: Inception point here for free..

 

All the feedback I’ve received so far has been very positive. Inception Point has the highest vote to read ratio that I’ve ever had on Wattpad and far above the average. I’m hoping that’s a good sign! My own opinion is that this new version of the novel holds together much better, the science is more accurate and the pacing is vastly improved. I’m hoping my readers feel the same way but, if not, please let me know. I’m tough – I can take it!

 

Thank you for reading it and even more if you leave a comment there too!


Planning for the Remains of the Year

Mobile Word ProcessorLike many, many authors out there, my writer income doesn’t cover the bills so I have to work a full-time job on the side. Between work, family, chores, school runs and more, it’s hard to muster any time for any actual writing. Mobile writing technology has proved invaluable, allowing me to write in those small windows when I’m waiting or travelling, but it’s still hard to make any significant progress.

To coin a phrase, I’m not getting any younger, and with time in short supply, I feel much better if I make maximum use of it. The best way to do that is to have a plan and to stick to it.

 

The Plan

I usually find the best way to plan is simply to create a To Do list, sorted by priority. What I’m going to show here isn’t the fully-detailed list, but I’ve tried to include everything that my readers (and other authors too) might find interesting:

  • Finish writing Deadline.
    As this is novel with my best chance of publication, seems wise to get this one completed first. The story came together well and I am very happy with the characters but finding a good ending has been troublesome.
  • Finish writing Sceptic.
    This novel is already complete but could use a final edit and proofread. In case you are wondering, it’s not part of the Astronomicon universe but, even though I could not make it fit, it was far too good a story idea to skip.
  • Rewrite Astronomicon: The Beginning.
    This one is LONG overdue and by far the biggest task. As it forms the introduction to the Astronomicon universe, it’s important that it’s up to my recent standard and representative of later novels. I’m expecting this to take 2-3 months, then I’ll publish it on Wattpad before relaunching it on Amazon.
  • If there’s any time left, I also hope to complete the ongoing project Behemoth too.

 

During all the above, I’ll be developing ideas for a range of other books I have in the planning stages. These include a historical fantasy, a magical contemporary fantasy and a psychological horror (I’m branching out from scifi!). I’m also looking to find a literary agent this year and encourage a few readers to support me on Patreon. If I can earn a little money from writing, I may be able to cut my working hours a little and get more writing done.

Seven months left to get ALL of this done. Wish me luck!


How to Get the Best #Indie Books on Amazon

KindleAnyone who has ever browsed independently published ebooks on Amazon will know the daunting, overpoweringly vast range of books available.  Every so often you stumble across an excellent book, a true treasure, but we’ve all wasted lots of time wading through a great many poor books too. With so much out there, it’s hard to find the good stuff.

Some indy authors do very well but the vast majority, including some excellent authors, remain completely undiscovered by almost all readers. If only there was some reliable way to sort the good stuff from the bad stuff!

The thing is, there IS a way to solve this and it’s very effective. Most authors find only around 1% of readers leave a review/rating on Amazon. Everyone knows that the first 3-5 people who review a novel are probably friends and relatives of the author, so we all ignore those. The problem for authors who only have a few dozen readers is that no-one trusts the very few (if any) reviews they have.

If every reader left a review for every single indy book they read – even just a sentence will do – then all indy authors would get many, many more reviews and suddenly review scores would be statistically vastly more accurate. Those great authors with very few readers would begin to properly stand out from the crowd and all readers would benefit from reliable opinions.

It only takes a few seconds to leave a review and it is one of the best ways to say thank you to an author. Telling him/her how good his/her novel is is a very nice thing to do, but leaving a review on Amazon is a much more powerful way to say thank you.

If a book has hundreds of reviews, you can be much more sure that the average score is a more accurate measure of the book’s quality.


Can you plan too much? #scifi

As most of my works are science fiction, I tend to end up with many scenes set on space craft. Some of these are brief, but in my more recent books space craft have featured more heavily.

View along top of Celtic Conveyor

JHF Celtic Conveyor

Sometimes I’ve sketched out deck plans on paper, detailing just the locations which crop up. This was how I designed the Elysian in Astronomicon: The Beginning¬†and the USS Oppenheimer in Icarus.¬†Other times I have put in some hours constructing detailed 3D models on my laptop. Examples of this are the Icarus from the book of the same name and the Akhena from Astronomicon: Distant Relatives.

The clear advantage of 3D models is that I can try out walking around the different locations, trying out new angles and coming up with ideas that a paper plan just wouldn’t inspire. It gives me a better idea of distances and lines-of-sight, occasionally causing me to use locations I would not have considered otherwise.

Eridani Flagship AkhenaThis doesn’t always go to plan. When I started designing the Eridani flagship, the Akhena, I quickly discovered that I had bitten off far more than I could chew.

The vessel was considerably larger that I could construct myself, so I was forced to limit myself to the important areas that would be used in the novel. The main hangar bay (near the rear of the vessel) was constructed in detail, as were the major corridors and some obvious architectural features such as the gardens. I may have to add to this model in future as the Akhena will be appearing again in a planned future novel.

JHF Celtic Conveyor

JHF Celtic Conveyor (overview)

My most recent work, Deadline, has led me to build my most detailed model yet. Most of the book is set on the Celtic Conveyor so it was necessary to model many of the locations on the ship. Especially as the crew spend much of their time chasing the mysterious alien intruder around the bowels of the ship. I’m also planning for the model to be re-used as the Celtic Conveyor’s sister ship, the Astral Empress. If I can use a model several times, it makes it worth investing a little more time in the construction.

JHF Celtic Conveyor

JHF Celtic Conveyor

With practice, I have got much faster at using the tools and a better judge of what details are important and which can be glossed over or ignored completely. It’s been a fascinating process and allowed me to maintain perfect consistency when characters move about within the vessel.

Now all I need to do is find someone who can render up the models so I can use them on my book covers too.

Icarus Front view 2 - In Space

Icarus – Gecko Class Asteroid Mining Vessel