writing


Back to the Beginning

Having finished Sceptic and Deadline (at last!), work on the completely rewrite of Astronomicon book 1 is now underway in earnest. I’ve set myself the ambitious target of finishing the first draft by the end of July. That’s particularly tough as it’s currently only part planned.

I will keep a few of the characters, obviously including those who make it into the later novels in the series, but most will be replaced or extensively changed. Apart from improving the depth of the characters, I’m also aiming to reduce the cast by at least a third. One of the biggest causes of change will be replacing the old Elysian design with the vastly improved design I used for it’s sister ship in Behemoth. This has led to a cascade of major changes throughout the novel, completely changed the orbital insertion, the crash and mission of the survivors on the surface of the planet.

It’s always hard to predict, but I expect to the new version of the book to be 10-25% shorter. After talking to many readers, it’s become clear that the title “The Beginning” was not widely liked so the rewrite will have a new title AND a new front cover too. The new name will be released when I do a cover-reveal in a few weeks time.

If you would like to help support me while I tackle this job, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

The finished new version (after proofreading and editing) will be released for FREE on Amazon, directly replacing the current version.


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.


What to do when your technology guesses are disproved?

Technology in Astronomicon: The BeginningTechnology is always a pain for writers of hard science fiction. We need it, a lot of it and often it is key to the storyline. Like most hard sci-fi writers I put a lot of time and effort into researching science and technology to make as accurate a guess at the future as I can. Sometimes we get it right but, often, we get it wrong.

Time is our enemy. The more time passes the more science and technology advance, leaving our best, educated guesses in danger of being proved wrong.

I wrote Astronomicon: The Beginning something like 20 years ago and much of the technology I included has held up well. Some things, however, have not. Now, this isn’t usually much of a problem because the vast majority of readers take the age of the book into account. The same goes for movies; who stops watching Blade Runner because it completely missed mobile phones or in 2017 (Blade Runner is set just two years from now) we simply don’t have flying cars?

My situation is a little different and becoming increasingly awkward. I’m in the process (and it’s a LONG process) of rewriting the first novel in the Astronomicon series in a serious attempt to bring it up to my current level of writing an correct the flaws in my technology predictions. Being the first in the series, I can’t just get rid of it or write it off as not worth the effort. It’s how many readers get into my universe and simply must be representative of the other novels.

The Elysian, the main spacecraft in the story, will undergo a complete design change to bring it into sync with the much improved and more realistic version currently used in Behemoth. That will have a significant impact on the book, mostly in terms of descriptions and character navigation. Nothing fatal there. Some of the minor characters will change a little and gain some depth. Again, nothing fatal. Things get awkward with the technology used to communicate with Earth. When I planned the novel over two decades ago, I went for Quantum Entanglement as the medium but now we know that just would not work.

The problem is, there just isn’t any viable way to communicate between stars without being limited by that pesky speed of light restriction. That makes a big chunk of the plot completely impossible. So, when I rewrite the book, do I keep in a chain of events which cannot be justified, maybe by making up some fantasy technology (which is hardly hard sci-fi) or do I rip out the relevant chunks of the story and then attempt to come up with some other idea as a reason for the characters wanting to do what they do? As I write this, neither option seems like a good solution.