The shape of my 2015

It occurs the new year is coming and that now I’m a proper author with books out and stuff, people might want to know what’s coming. So here is a nice little list (subject to change etc etc …)

Remember this will probably change, dates are only approximate and I’ll be updating the list periodically. But for now, as you can see, I have shedloads to do and not too much time to do it in.

Apocalypse Weird 101

image001Every so often something comes along which will make careers and change the world. My news-sense says AW is mine and I’m proud to be a part of the Tier One team, creating and then breaking a brand new world. Created by Nick Cole, Michael Bunker and Tim Grahl:

Apocalypse Weird is a fully realized, weird, apocalyptic world produced and directed by Wonderment Media, Inc.

For more information, you can download the first book in the series, Nick Cole’s The Red King for free RIGHT NOW from all your favourite e-book vendors. The idea is a metaverse where each author has their own corner of the sandbox in which to play and we can freely write books in each others corners (playing nicely with the canon and the pre-ordained rules set by the original creators). There are some amazing names connected with this including:

Nick is the official showrunner/author herder for AW with the awesome Ellen Campbell in charge of editing duties. Tim is doing the internet/marketing stuff in tandem with the author blog platform ThirdScribe and the Screenshot 2014-12-06 17.12.51stunning graphic novel-style covers are being created by M.S. Corley. The first books are due to drop on February 23rd which means I’d better get writing.

I’ve secured Japan and am currently writing the first two books, The Fractured Mirror and Blood, Steel and Stone (You can check out my Pinterest board for the series here).

Want to know more? Well you should check out the official Facebook group where us authors seem to be using as a rec room. You should also sign up to the newsletter and a chance to get ARCs before publication (in exchange for an honest review). You should also check out Hank Garner‘s awesome podcast with Nick where he spills everything he knew as of date of recording.

I’ll post more as I have it.

Update: Nick Cole has posted on how YOU can get involved with AW.

8/12/2014: Another update — Michael has posted going into more detail on the different ways you can get involved in AW.

13/12/2014: Michael has been chatting to Hank on his latest podcast, spilling more details about AW.

19/12/2014: Stefan Bolz has done an awesome blog post containing the synopses of the tier one books.

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The perils of being an author

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I try not to have writer’s block. It exists and the muse is a fickle creature, a unicorn which doesn’t take kindly to being lured, instead you have to wait for her to settle and then pussyfoot around her and hope she doesn’t flee in terror. I’m trying to write The Fractured Mirror (it’s due at the end of the month) and this involves an odd mix of research into ancient Japan but also reliving my trip there in 2010 (the book is set in Kyoto, where I spent like 14 glorious days) and I’m using my experience of the city, the shinkansen and visiting Kyomizudera as part of the plot, except the world has ended, Tokyo is being ravaged by Gojira and Kyoto is a facade, an illusion that shatters when the world of wyrd gets involved.

Have I said writing hard yet? Because it is. The deadline probably doesn’t help, working under pressure can be both a boon and a bane (which depends on whether you get everything done on time or not) and I’m very aware I can do this.  After all what better time is there than the three day holiday to knuckle down and do stuff (I include Christmas Eve because you’d have to be insane to go anywhere). The problem is it’s hard to believe it, to focus, and just write. I’m procrastinating by doing research and trying to write the second novel at the same time is more fruitless than a chocolate cake.

I have 25 days to write a novel, that’s about 2k a day. I can do that (as NaNo attests) except I can’t convince myself and believe it.

Not writing, for whatever reason, it feels like a day lost, time wasted and ashes let loose on the wind (hence the pic above cribbed from the KDP Facebook account).

Someone please tell me I can do this and that it’s going to be awesome.

Guest Post: Melissa Brown on Kickstarting Becoming Death

photo-1024x768Today I’ve got a guest post from my friend Melissa. She’s coming to the end of her debut Kickstarter campaign for launch her first Young Adult novel, Becoming Death. Melissa is a teacher, the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for Norfolk and she wants to walk the indie path. Check out her post below and then go look at her Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/melissabrownauthor/becoming-death-a-ya-novel. As of this post, she has 12 days and £951 to raise if her campaign is going to succeed.

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I am a creative writing teacher seeking public support to crowd fund my YA novel, Becoming Death. Using Kickstarter I have until December 17th to convince friends, family and members of the public to raise £1,250 to fund production of my debut novel. The primary costs of the campaign are cover design, professional editing and printing. Earlier this year, I was longlisted for the Nottingham Writers’ Club’s 2014 national short story competition, shortlisted for the Ideatap Inspires competition and a featured poet at the Norwich City of Stories launch event, so funding my Kickstarter would be a great end to the year.

Becoming Death is a tale of family secrets, falling in love and questioning your destiny, told from the perspective of a supernatural protagonist. When Madison Clark turns eighteen, she is ushered into the secretive family business.  Little does she know, her family are Grim Reapers, custodians of souls on their journey to the beyond.  Will she be able to carry out her new duties when she finds out that her next victim is her best friend?

Originating from Bay City, Michigan, I made my home in Norwich, UK twelve years ago.  In that time, I have contributed to education and the arts, working in the city’s nationally-renowned Millennium Library and teaching English and Creative Writing to both children and adults in the city.  I have completed volunteer assignments for Writers’ Centre Norwich, and was a featured poet at this year’s Norwich: City of Stories launch event.

For the last five years, I have run the Norfolk region of Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month – an annual international challenge that encourages entrants to write 50,000 words of a novel within a month.  Other local writers have successfully published novels that they began as a result of the project – among them Lucian Poll (The Floors), Simon Poore (The Englishman and the Bubble) and Lesley Smith (The Changing of the Sun).

Becoming Death was born as a Nanowrimo novel in 2010. I have always been interested in the supernatural but I wanted a new take on it. I started researching different types of creatures and one that stood out to me was the Grim Reaper. After researching the Grim Reaper, I found this creature was very rarely portrayed as female, thus my main character was born. Madison is a typical teenage fangirl: she writes fanfiction about her OTP (one true pairing), is addicted to her favourite comic book series and doesn’t really know how to be an adult yet.

The book sets up a new back story of how Grim Reapers might function in the modern world, past traditions like wearing robes and carrying scythes are reserved for ceremonies. Instead they attend evening classes to learn how to use their powers,  use an app to track their victims and scroll through social media to learn more about them

It was the challenge of completing a project within a tight timescale that helped me decide that crowdfunding was the right option for me, and I believe crowdfunding offers an exciting opportunity for up-and-coming novelists to break into the market.  I welcome donations of any amount.  Rewards for donating include advance copies of my book, bespoke jewellery, writing courses, writing advice sessions, and opportunities to have a character created in your appearance or with your name. For more information, I can be contacted at Twitter at @MRBrown_author.

You can find more information about my book here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/melissabrownauthor/becoming-death-a-ya-novel

The Changing of the Sun up for auditions

Screenshot 2014-12-04 11.46.16This is all Michael Bunker’s fault (seriously, check out a dictionary and you’ll see a small cameo of a bearded Plain fellow) but I’ve put The Changing of the Sun up for auditions on ACX. Actually it may also be Hugh Howey‘s as well (both have been tweeting about the auditions for their respective books), the point is I would like to get the book produced (with a minimum of work on my end, I know nothing about narrating/sound engineering) so I’ve thrown it into the open and hope someone decides it’s worth taking an interest.

Current Projects — December 2014

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I’m sitting in Starbucks, Christmas carols are streaming through the speakers and people are streaming in and out (the joys of Black Friday, Bankruptcy Saturday, Sales Sunday and Cyber Monday).

I’m in the middle of plotting and planning, finishing stuff off and getting ready to start new projects. This involves, principally, taking at least a week off to just play computer games and share the sofa with the cats. I’m exhausted but then, considering my accomplishments in the last twelve months I’m about due s0me time out. I got myself a free copy of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (my Yule present to myself, along with South Park: The Stick of Truth) by trading in some old games so my festive period will be spent enjoying those.

The Kickstarter for A Star-Filled Sea is done and ready to go live in January (middle of the month, past the Christmas lull) and it’s aimed directly at Teams Changing and Parting and my small but growing fanbase. I’m looking at using Kickstarter to grow my brand, to reward my readers with books months before general release and as a way to allow me to publish stuff without falling back into debt.

That aside, here’s what I’m working on.

*Note: Some stuff is contracted … as I plan to actually make anthologies and novels a regular thing, this will be indicated though vagueness remained when something hasn’t been formally announced or is super secret.

The Ashteraiverse

 

The Parting of the Waters — Writing the final act … well the penultimate one which has been left till last.

The Shadow of the Stars — Set aside … no point even starting it until Parting is done. Ditto on One in Blue, The Other Green.

A Star-Filled Sea — Now on draft three, at the half way point (around 35k) and writing chapter eleven. Kickstarter will be going live in January and I hope, should all go well, to have the book with backers by August.

*Encoding Sentience 1.0  First draft done, set aside prior to revisions being made. I have plans to submit this somewhere but if it doesn’t make it, it’s heading for Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea.

Plotting out An Inherited State (Chaya and Josh #2) and Breaking Point (Chaya and Josh #3). Lesser Evils is on hold because I have no time and plans re Kickstarter for it.

Short stories and novellas

 

*Solace — A short story about space travel, mermaids and first Contact. Right now, this has no place to go but I’m enjoying writing it immensely.

*Zombie Hotel — A short story about zombies and an ultra modern Tokyo hotel and the end of the world. Am re-reading prior to a rewrite and while standalone, this is the precursor to my AW world even if this story will be heading somewhere different.

In The Forest Where Time Stands Still — I’m not sure what this is yet. It feels creepy but I’m not sure if it’s a short story or something longer.

Apocalypse Weird

 

*The Fractured Mirror — AW: Japan #1. Kyoto, zombies and the end of the world. First draft, about 14k in, midway through the opening act. I hope to have this finished by February.

*Blood, Steel and Stone — AW: Japan #2. Tokyo, Gojira, magical girls and swords. First draft, about 3k in, starting through the opening act. I hope to have this finished by end of March.

Behind the Scenes of Apocalypse Weird

awI’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to be involved with Apocalypse Weird (awesome experience, lovely people, brilliant exposure and a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity) and it’s a super exciting project. Hank Garner, whose podcast I was on last week, has just posted a special report in which he chats with Nick Cole about our little metaverse project. I certainly learned some stuff I didn’t know and it’s reminded me that I’ll be spending December destroying part of the world. Don’t forget, The Red King is out on Friday (digital only at this point) and it’s going to be awesome.

Go forth and listen!

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Click to listen to the podcast!

Launch Day Cometh: Tales From Pennsylvania

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Today is launch day … and I woke up this morning feeling like anyone else in the world. My copy, ordered from Amazon Prime, was supposed to show up yesterday but I’m hoping it’ll now appear this morning. For some odd reason, having a print copy for my shelf and being able to YouTube the unboxing before anyone else is important to me. I’ve had a copy for weeks, e-ARCS are easy enough but they don’t quite have the same gravitas as a print book with your name on it.

The names though … seriously, folks, the names! The best part of this experience hasn’t only been writing Hanna’s story (or at least the start of it), it’s been the people I’ve met and now count as friends and I get to work with most of them again as part of the epic Apocalypse Weird (the first book of which launches this time week). Because the internet has has ARCs for the better part of the month, it means reviews are gently rolling in and I particularly like this comment from David Bruns’ review of Tales:

In The Barn That Hanna Built by Lesley Smith, we find hacker Hanna Strauss, forced out of the city to hide out among the Amish. In her city existence, Hanna was obsessed with coding the perfect country setting, but when she seeks refuge among the Amish, she finds she’s actually living inside that landscape. This story has a nice twist to it, and Smith has a visceral, detailed style that evokes vivid mental images in the reader.

Another review by Chris F also touches on the nicer parts of Hanna’s story:

Lesley Smith’s “The Barn That Hanna Built” – Hanna is a young adult orphaned as a child due to the war with Transport, living under the under the shadow of its surveillance in the city. Caught up in city life, she remains anonymous and unknown to others, which is perfect for her secret identity, which presents itself as a threat to Transport. When she’s forced into hiding, she puts her computer skills to good use, inadvertently playing an important but invisible role in the ongoing war. I was really struck how the author’s words painted a very lush & vivid description, evocatively bringing this world to life. Also, I was delighted with the outcome because you don’t realize how important this story is to the overall Pennsylvania mythos until you finish it – well done!

That, folks, sums it up perfectly. The launch party isn’t until tonight but the Beard has gotten a little soppy over on his blog. Honestly, I can understand why and I know how much this little book means to him, personally. When we first started chatting he was saying how he’d love to have people writing and publishing PA stories by the end of 2014. I count at least four novellas/short stories, which a half dozen more at least in development, AND Tales so not bad at all. I like seeing my friends succeed, especially as they’ve earned it with sweat, tears and graft.

Happy launch day to Michael and my fellow co-authors! Tonight is going to be a blast and I can’t wait!

Oh and have an unboxing:

I love living in the future!

2014-11-20 16.50.06When I was a kid, the future was this magical place of hover boards (apparently those are coming too!) and I never expected it to actually be like it was in movies. Suddenly we have iPads and phones, computers controlling houses and the internet EVERYWHERE.

This is my new Nest. I got it as a present to myself, mainly inspired by how frakking cold I’ve been feeling due to my anaemia and the illogical placing of my previous thermostat (downstairs, by the front door, right next to an always-on radiator). Last year I got to choose between heating and eating (I went with the latter) in order to save money and it was miserable. I’m hoping this winter will be different and milder.

The amazing thing for me is being able to change the Nest from anywhere with WiFi or internet access; I sat on the bus as we pulled into Dereham’s market place and told the Nest to heat up the house in anticipation of my arrival. It was bliss as I still remember, all too clearly, the agony of coming home to a cold house last January and having to wait for half an hour for the place to heat up to habitable levels.

Okay so I got the thing on what amounts to two year hire-purchase through a raised tariff but, as I explained to Sophie (who now has Nest-envy), it’s no different to getting a new phone. It’s also one of the concessions that I’ve realised make life a little easier on myself, the first step in making my home a lot more me friendly. Before Tuesday, I was having to walk up and down a steep set of steps and squint as an unreadable, crappy LCD thermostat which wasn’t even registering the correct temperature (remember that radiator and the front door I mentioned? Also first floor; heat rises!) and should culminate with a nice new American-style fridge freezer next year that will making actually being able to feed myself a tad easier.

I’ve spent the day playing with various new large-print gadgets I’ve been purchasing over the past few weeks, all of them over the counter things like a new timer for my oven and a weighing scales. I’ve bought speakers and rigged my iPad by my bed so it can serve as music centre and reading station. I must admit though, being able to raise or lower the temperature from bed is possibly a step too far and may well condemn the human race to extinction in a single swoop but I’m not complaining, neither are the menagerie.

Yep, I love the future.