Writer’s Block Ego

I wrote recently that the hardest thing about being a writer is not succumbing to the allure of the new book ideas that pop into your head pretty much daily. I think I was wrong. It is damn hard to have a lovely, shiny scene from an unrelated, as-yet unplanned book pop into your head and just jot it down somewhere and continue with what you’re doing. The temptation to open up a brand new Word document and start writing the book that contains that scene is huge, but if we as writers gave in to that temptation, we’d never finish anything.

Another obvious one is writer’s block. I’ve recently noticed a couple of people posting about how they’ve been unable to write for a couple of weeks. I think I’ve only once suffered from writer’s block, when I couldn’t for the life of me think how my characters were going to leave a room. I knew they had to walk out and go somewhere else. I knew where that somewhere else was. I just couldn’t put together the words to have them do it. Really, I should have just not had them go in the room in the first place. It ended up with me not writing a thing for a year. More recently, in my semi-noir thriller, I’ve struggled a little here and there, but really (thankfully) I haven’t suffered from proper writer’s block.

But the problem that no one really thinks of when they think of authors is reviews. It could be argued that it isn’t really a problem, but it’s certainly a something. The last review (at the time of writing) I received on Shadow of the Wraith got to me a little. It wasn’t particularly bad. It was three stars and the basic gist was that she liked it until about halfway through and then it lost a star because of the direction it then took.

The problem is when a reviewer says something that makes so little sense that you feel it must be addressed. But you can’t. To respond to any review, good or bad, invites all sorts of issues. From a simple ‘Well you thanked him, why didn’t you thank me?’ to people thinking you’re an unlikeable ass because you ‘argued’ with a reviewer. I’ve seen the latter happen with an author I know. She addressed a couple of points in a review in the hopes of preventing potential readers from being mislead, and it sparked a whole thing, and her ‘lashing out’ was reported on several blogs and websites.

I’ve had a few like that, but thankfully, the good ones outweigh them. I don’t mean reviews where the reviewer simply didn’t like the book. That’s fine, not everyone will. I’ll give some examples.

In this last review, the reviewer had two main problems. The first was that halfway through, my science FANTASY novel took a turn into ‘unexpected territory’ when it introduced some fantasy elements. Well…aside from the obvious fact that the genre kind of suggested that might happen, the only two fantasy elements I can think of are not all that fantastical. She noted that even the Force in Star Wars makes her cringe. To be honest, I don’t see why a book’s rating should suffer because a reviewer decided to read a book whose genre clearly suggests things that the reviewer knows they won’t like, and then they find things that are not to their liking. But that could just be me.

The second issue was one of my twists. She didn’t like that it came out of nowhere. Now, to me, a twist isn’t really a twist when you’ve known about it from the start. I hinted at it several times (I actually thought when I was writing that the hints might be too obvious), and there was never any cause to reveal it before that point anyway. She thought it was a very convenient way to get the character out of trouble. I think that was what she was saying, anyway. The way she put it confused me entirely. But I don’t really understand that idea. If I get so stuck that I have to come up with something completely over the top to get them out of trouble, then surely I can just rewrite, can’t I?

So she gave it three stars and my average rating suffered for it. But I can’t say anything. I can’t even ask if she could clarify the things that I didn’t understand, because that would be perceived by people as some kind of subtle attack.

Then there’s the outright lies. Or things that are so exaggerated that they just become lies. On Amazon, someone claimed that characters hop from planet to planet in a matter of minutes. Well, that’s just one of those exaggerations that you come out with and don’t necessarily mean to lie, but you just can’t do that when you’re writing a review for a book. Luckily, the few low star reviews I have are so ridiculous that the majority of people won’t take much notice of them anyway, but it’s still difficult to sit back and let it go, when you know that every word these people write could influence potential readers. But reviewers don’t seem to register (or perhaps care) that these reviews and ratings will be there forever and they will affect the book.

Of course, then there are the people who accuse you of plagiarism. I have someone on Facebook who claims I’ve stolen from TV and games. I haven’t seen everything he says I ripped off, but the things I have, I can’t really make sense of. Mass Effect? Well the only similarity I can think of is that the military is called the Alliance. Hardly unique to Mass Effect. Not to mention, mine is structured completely differently anyway. Stargate? Well, I have big platforms in space which open hyperspace to those ships without hyperdrives, and then a big pair of wing type things take them to their destination. They’re round, though, so I suppose that makes it identical to Stargate… But again, I can’t say anything.

I think that although some of it is what I said about every word people say about my work has the potential to affect its sales and its potential readers, a lot of it also comes down to ego. No one likes to be accused, after working hard on something for so long, of stealing from other things. No one likes the idea that people don’t like their work, inevitable and unavoidable as it is. We all like to think that we’ll spend our months or years writing our book, put it out there, and be praised constantly for how great it is. We know that’s not going to happen, but what does reality have to do with it?

So I think perhaps the hardest thing about being a writer is reading reviews. And keeping your mouth shut.

Giveaway!

Just a quick update to let you all know that I have listed a giveaway on Goodreads. So to be in for a chance of winning a signed paperback copy of Shadow of the Wraith, enter it here!

For anyone in Northern Ireland, you can also buy signed copies from Waterstones in Coleraine and Little Acorns Bookshop in Derry. Neither have many left though.

Long Time No Somethingorother…

I’ve been moving stuff for nearly two weeks, and not doing much else, so I’ve had very little to blog about. Not that I blog much anyway. But I thought I should update a bit.

At the weekend, I took up another shipment of books to Waterstones. The manager had me sign them all. That’s the first time I’ve ever used my little squiggly combination of the R and H! Although it was quite small… I’ll get used to it. We’re also trying to organise getting the books into more Waterstones branches. Which will be good.

The small amount of writing I have done has been all over the place. I was reading through what I already have of my third NEXUS novel when I got the urge to start…a noir. I’m not sure where that came from. Well, I think the urge started when I was playing Max Payne 3, ages ago. But now I have five chapters and 12,000 words of it done. At the moment, it is set in the same universe as the NEXUS novels, but not a part of that series. I don’t know at the moment whether to keep it like that, or bring it back to more modern times. We’ll see.

So, I will finally get back to writing more of the (semi-)noir today, and I’ll continue to go through the third NEXUS novel, and the short story I was writing ages ago. Maybe I’ll finish one of them at some point.

Also, I despise Skype. It’s garbage. Microsoft deserves a slap in the face with a very heavy glove for forcing me to use it.

Try Kira For Free!

Kira, my steampunk novella will be free on Smashwords for the rest of the week.

It is available there for any e-reader, in a variety of formats. Even if you don’t particularly like steampunk, you won’t lose anything by trying it! And you might find you like my writing enough to get my sci fi novels…

As a New Year’s gift to help fill up your new Kindle, Nook, Sony reader, iPad or whatever e-reader you have, click through to Smashwords and give Kira a download! It’s rude not to accept a gift, remember.

Kira Cover

Witty & Clever Christmassy Title

Yes, my post titles are getting worse.

I think ten days was enough of a break. Now that Temple of the Sixth is out, I have started work on the third novel of the NEXUS series – with the working title of Rise of the Fallen. Yes, it appears every NEXUS title will be something of the something. Given that title, fans of the series may already be able to guess something about the storyline. As I mentioned in my last interview with Mary of Zigzag Timeline, the protagonist/s in this novel will probably not be expected.

I’m happy to be getting back to proper writing. Temple of the Sixth was actually written before I’d even started proper edits Shadow of the Wraith, so it wasn’t very fun to go straight from the gruelling edits of SotW to more editing on TotS (I really shouldn’t abbreviate that one; ‘TOTS’ just sounds ridiculous).

Granted, I did take some time out from editing to write Kira, which was entirely from scratch. That was written for someone else though, really, and so didn’t have the same feeling to it as writing the NEXUS novels does. I have been asked repeatedly if and when I’ll be going back to Kira’s world, by the by, and yes I will, but I don’t know when.

I have about 30,000 words of Fallen already written, I admit, but I changed so much throughout the first two novels, and had ideas of what needed changing in this one, that I have a huge amount to redo. At present, I’m just reading what I already have, with the odd edit, just to remember exactly what’s going on. I’m six (A4) pages in and enjoying it. So that’s a good start.

I have no idea when Fallen will be completed, let alone when it will be available, but it will give you all enough time to become familiar with the universe in Shadow of the Wraith and Temple of the Sixth! And you might even have some time left over to see what Kira’s up to.

Until my next post at an unforeseeable point of time in the future, near or far, Merry and/or Happy steal from the Pagans and give to the Christians and then lie through your teeth about it.

Temple of the Sixth

The second book in the NEXUS science fantasy series is now available! I might even give a second exclamation mark to it -> !

Presently it is available for Kindle on Amazon (UK and US) and for all other E-formats on Smashwords. Over the coming days, it will become available in e-formats from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Sony and Apple’s iBookstore. It will also, very soon, be available in paperback.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book of the series – this is standalone. You don’t need to have read Shadow of the Wraith first, but if you have, you’ll get a little bit more out of it!

Keep an eye on the reviews page, as there are at least two review blogs preparing to post their reviews soon.

So lastly, here’s the cover and the blurb:

Temple of the Sixth Cover

When omens of the End Times appear across the galaxy, it signals the start of a war between two immortal forces – the Celestians and the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy have learnt and adapted since they last waged war, forcing the Celestians to enlist the aid of mortals to free a kidnapped god.

Thardriik Jhunassi Kortlyn III – Theak – was a private detective. For a day. Then came the incident with the dead puppy and the inevitable end of his crime-fighting career. Despite his flaws, Theak is a clear choice for the Celestians, and he is drawn into the centre of a battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy.

Time is something the Celestians’ heroes do not have as the Hierarchy’s infection spreads across countless worlds, bending every living creature to their will. With the heroes’ every step bringing them closer towards one final battle, there is only one question: can they defeat an ancient and immortal enemy?

A Quickie

Let’s see how many people that title brings in!

I haven’t posted for a while, so I thought I would make a quick one to update everyone.

Shadow of the Wraith is now sitting on the shelves of both Eason in Derry and Waterstones in Coleraine (both Northern Ireland). Although I’ve actually lost money to stock both, it feels good to be in actual shops – especially Waterstones.

Temple of the Sixth, the second book in the NEXUS series, is nearly ready to publish, and I’m working with the tentative release date of December 14. It will be available in both e-book and paperback forms – hopefully both will be released at the same time, though I’m having a little bit of trouble with the printer.

One of my kittens bit me quite hard this morning.

I think that is all of my news, which shows what an exciting life I have.

Meet Juni

This is Juni:

Juni Lien

She does not like long walks on beaches, but she does like romantic candlelight dinners, because it’s that much easier to vanish into the shadows. She also likes long, sharp knives.

This portrait comes from the scene in Shadow of the Wraith, where Travis Archer goes to Juni’s hotel room to recruit her for his mission. She opens the door in nothing but her underwear and a silk robe, which she intentionally leaves open to keep Travis’ attention off the knife she’s contemplating sliding into his neck.

Mark Williams was did this art for me, and I’m very happy with the way it came out. I admit I wasn’t overly fond of the final face, and so cut the face out of his first update and merged it into the final scene, but that’s only because this face conveyed a sense of her character better.

It has already met with some unpleasant comments, sadly. But, at the risk of incurring more…what do you think of her?

EDIT: I have since made a few small adjustments, so this isn’t quite the same as the original you may see elsewhere.

Updates and Peanuts

Disclaimer: There are no peanuts involved in this post.

I can’t think of much to write about, so I’ll just update y’all – to be momentarily American – on stuff and whatnot.

First off, I am in Underground Book Review’s Self-Published Author Awards, and I joined late, so I have quite a way to catch up. Any votes would be very helpful! It is, of course, ‘Shadow of the Wraith’. Thank you 🙂

Secondly, my second novel in the NEXUS series, Temple of the Sixth, is currently with my editor! After I get it back and have implemented the changes, it will be a matter of waiting for the cover, and then it will be ready to publish. So, unless there are unforseen holdups, you can expect it before Christmas!

Thirdly, what I was going to say next has slipped my mind because I went to blow my nose. Instead, I will share some brief thoughts on films, for no reason at all:

  • Skyfall – Very good. Amusing, good villain (with a very good and funny introduction to him). Some good nods to the old films, some good ignoring of the utter garbage that was QoS. The villain was more funny than scary, but the film was more about Bond and Bond/M, so that was ok. What wasn’t quite so ok, for me, was that there were a couple of things that just don’t work timeline-wise. I can’t say anything about them without giving spoilers, so I won’t. Overall, one of the best Bond films – much better than Quantum of What The Hell is This Crap, but not quite as good as Casino Royale.
  • Men in Black 3 – Got off to a very shaky start, with horrendous CGI, terrible acting, and several cringe-worthy, cheesy, childish moments. Around about the time jump, though, it got much, much better. Some very funny moments, and Brolin did a very good job indeed as a young Tommy Lee Jones. Good ending, too. Better than 2 by far, not quite as good as the original.
  • Legion – As awful as I expected it to be. Yet somehow Paul Bettany managed to be quite good in it. Why won’t someone offer him a good role?
  • Snow White and the Huntsman (I think that’s the right name, anyway) – Guess what? Whatsherface can actually act! I’ve never seen Twilight, and I don’t intend to, but the main issue with her seems to be that she’s as wooden as a…piece of wood. But, it turns out she can act. She’s nothing special, and there were still times where she could have done with some semblance of emotion on her face, but overall I thought she was fine. The film itself was very good, too. Bigger and more expansive than I expected.
  • Looper – Pretty good. I don’t really like films where the ‘hero’ is an unlikeable ponce, as he was to a degree. However, it was good enough. Some good little twists, though the end didn’t make a lot of sense to me. One minute, he doesn’t care about anything but himself, and then the next… Well, it just seemed like a bit of a leap to me. But still, good.
  • Total Recall – It seemed to me more as though someone wrote this film, and then suddenly realised, ‘This is Total Recall!’, and rather than scrap it, just said it’s a remake. I’ve heard it’s more along the lines of the book than the original, which would explain the huge difference. I tend to watch remakes as though I’ve never seen the original, and doing so, I quite enjoyed it. I’m not too sure why, in the United Federation of Britain and the colony of Australia, Farrel plays an American. I don’t see the problem with letting him just be Irish. Perhaps it’s in the book that he’s American, or perhaps they thought Americans would enjoy it more if it was the usual evil British, hero Americans. Even Bill Nighy, who can’t even do an American accent, played an American. Anyway, again, nothing special, but enjoyable. Kate Beckinsale is in it, so that’s good enough.

Peanuts. I lied

The Next Big Thing

Well, I’ve been tagged in this blog tag thingy. I refuse to admit just how long it took me to work out just what was happening, and why I’d been tagged, and what I was meant to do about it. It involves answering questions about one’s current project. We then tag someone else to force them in a thumbscrew manner to spill their respective beans.

I was tagged by Sammy HK Smith, who writes…stuff. Mainly fantasy and speculative fiction, I think I’d be right in saying. And it’s a good thing she did, because you only have to look at how long it’s been since my last post to see how hard I find it to come up with stuff to say! Which is odd, for a writer.

Anyway, on with the game!

What is the working title of your book?

I’m working on three (five, if you count my terrible habit of skipping ahead to start the sequel to the book I haven’t yet finished), but one may never see the light of day, and one is the third of the series in which the second hasn’t been published yet. So in short, it is ‘Temple of the Sixth’.

What genre does your book fall under?

Science fantasy. Genres are something of a necessary evil, though. They are needed for obvious reasons, but it does mean that authors can feel quite restricted, and readers often get the wrong or incomplete idea about what they’re looking at. Although science fantasy is the best and most accurate description of my novels, it (and the broader ‘sci fi’) brings unwanted connotations and requirements. I felt like I was going somewhere with this deep and philosophical paragraph, but it turns out I wasn’t, so moving on…

Give a brief synopsis of your book:

The Hierarchy is that most cliched of things: an ancient evil (ghostly ‘woooo’). Having experienced a most devastating betrayal by those they once fought to protect, the Hierarchy’s leaders did not go where they were meant to after death. Instead, they remained between planes of existence, seething in hatred and fury, and awaiting their chance to wipe all life from the universe in a raging torrent of vengeance.

In response to this unforseen threat to all life, the Celestians were created. Whenever the Hierarchy rises to exact their revenge, the Celestians vanquish them. But even they do not have the power to stop the furious immortals for good, and now, the Hierarchy has begun to control their anger. Now, they are scheming, intelligent and crafty. Now, they may be unstoppable.

Theak is one of the mortal agents recruited by timid – and debatably insane – little Fonau and his telepathic hotline to the kidnapped god who will bring the Celestians together. If they do not rescue her, nothing will stop the end of all life. Theak doesn’t believe a word the little man says, but there’s something compelling in those big, round eyes, and the trembling lower lip, and so he agrees to help. He probably wouldn’t, had he known how many times he’d be chased, bitten, burned alive, and have his chest ripped into by Death himself.

Time is inevitably running out, and the chances of success are looking worse with each passing minute. As the Hierarchy’s infection spreads across countless worlds, bending every living creature to its will, the thought in Theak’s mind is, how do you win a war against those you’re fighting to protect?

Where did the idea for the book come from?

People are going to get tired of reading it, but as usual, it just came about by itself. I decided I wanted to write something big. I also wanted it to be a little more fantastical.

Contrary to that… Although I didn’t mention it above, one of the parallel storylines in the novel has two ordinary men trying to survive this extraordinary situation. These two men work as secretaries, and have never so much as left their home town. I wanted to see the whole situation from their perspective, as well as from that of the people who know what is happening. These two think they’re being attacked by zombies! I liked the idea of writing that.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, Theak is black, bald, and twenty-eight years old, so that narrows it down a little. I’m not sure, though. I like Chiwetel Ejiofor – even if I can’t pronounce his name – but I’d rather have unknown actors, so they can be seen purely as their character.

Of course, some familiar characters from my first novel do show their faces, including Juni. I wouldn’t mind Kate Beckinsale playing her part, but then I’d have to do a rewrite for her involving a nude scene with a bald author…it might get a little contrived.

Tag!

I nominate (read: unceremoniously kick into the spotlight): Mary Fan, Marita Hansen, Danny at Uproar Comics (because I’m stretching the rules a touch), and Nichole Sotzek.