Category: Writing


….half….

Just a short update:

Song of the Ice Lord
Cover is done and rather splendid – reveal should be in a couple of days, and hopefully some time in the next week or so pre-orders should be available. Files for the paperback are uploaded and assuming they pass review, the first proof should be ordered later on today, and is likely to arrive in the UK this time next week. Excited!!

Flight from Shantar:
Currently just short of 110k words (I’m getting on with finishing that while waiting for Song to be processed). The story is nearly finished but will need a bit of rearranging and then some pretty hardcore editing for tone and consistency. It needs a deal more work, but hopefully it will make a good, taut story by the end of it. A couple more bits of tidy-up and then I’ll print it out and start scribbling on it!

Book 3:
Still lurking around 100k words but though not much writing is happening till I finish with the others, plotting and sense-checking is ongoing, which means all the various plot-strands and motivations are starting to fall into place in a more sensible manner. Again, lots of work to be done, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the wordcount gets split between two books eventually – the 100k is missing a lot of character’s storylines – but the frame is in place and the bodywork is starting to take shape. So even that’s progressing, albeit slowly.

Lastly there are three short stories embedded into the text of Song and I’m thinking of releasing them as free shorts, provisionally titled “The Last Dragon”, “The Scarred Artisan” and “The Widow’s Son” (though the last is a rubbish title and hopefully likely to morph into something snappier).

Get me with the progress!! I have a good feeling about this year though… Fingers crossed!
Right. Back to it.

Cover reveal for Song should be in the next week or so, and release date before the end of the month so as always, watch this space for progress.
All the best:
JAC
*****

Dear all:

Developments, and it’s getting exciting.

Flight from Shantar and book 3 set aside for the moment while I’m working to release Song of the Ice Lord. Clocking in at somewhere around 95k words, I’ve had it back from both editors and there is only one small rewrite still to finish, which should be done in the next few days I hope, after which it will be off to Trish for formatting.

I’m currently in discussion about the cover – it will feature the bird Tiris, and possibly the stone circle which plays an important part in the proceedings. I would quite like to have the protagonist, Lodden, on the cover, but many stock photos look really modern, even the ones in old-fashioned clothes, and that would spoil it entirely. I shall investigate but probably going with the simplest image possible, and then maybe something a bit more ornate in terms of the font. Getting there though(rah! I love that bit!)

So, it will be three or four weeks before I get my slot for the cover, and I should imagine something similar for queuing for formatting, but if all goes well I might be set for a July release… If I can push it forward I’ll try for midsummer though. That would be pleasing, but it doesn’t usually slide earlier so much as later!

We’ll see. Depends on the queues and how well the paperback file works though, (not to mention posting times for the proof. I WISH they’d do that from the UK – it adds a week on quite unnecessarily, and that’s when you pay three times for the postage what you pay for the proof itself!)

And then… well, then onto Flight and Book 3, but it will be good all the same!
More as I know it:
JAC

Dear all:

It’s been a while since I last gave you an update, I know, but it’s not that I’ve forgotten you. I’m ensconced deep in the writing cave, doing my best to actually finish some stuff for you – and it’s starting to move a bit at last. Very exciting! So let me tell you a little about what’s been going on…

Book 3: This is now at 80 thousand words or so, and there is still much work to be done. I’m aiming to make this a proper fantasy-sized book but it all depends where the story breaks. Of course the larger story arc is hardly begun yet, but currently I’m thinking this should be a three-paperback story arc and come in nicely as a kind-of trilogy.
The flipside to that is that it’s just too messy having two novellas in one as a starter, so there may be a re-branding along the line to clarify this. This would involve the loss of many of the reviews that are currently up though, and I really value your reviews, so I need to think about how best to manage that. Watch this space.

Flight from Shantar: This is a prequel to events in the On Dark Shores series, and tells of the journey to bring the Mother of the Shantar from the heartlands of her country and smuggle her into Mardon, the country which has only recently been at war with her own. It links in with the arrival of Jack and Vansel in On Dark Shores, and introduces you to characters who will play a large part in Book 3.
This is now at 80k words and nearly at the end of the first draft…. Another ten thousand words (ish) should join up the gaps, then there’ll be a bit of rearrangement before I send it off to the editors to be attacked with scalpels… The second half has had a bit of work already (ie it came back with the comment “How did Suze get involved?” – a small question requiring a 40k word answer!), so it’ll be structural stuff on the first half, and word-polishing on the second. Baby steps, people!
But in the meantime…

Song of the Ice Lord: This is a story from the ancient history of the world of On Dark Shores, set millennia before the current storyline. A dark and terrifying being known as the Ice Lord precipitates the world into a devastating war. Country after country falls before him, until only a few survivors are left, gathered on the Skral islands, and having finished with the rest, the Ice Lord is coming for them. Only the determination of a one-handed craftsman, a young Skral bard and a half-blind Shantara will stand between the Ice Lord and the death of a world…
This is now in its second edit (ie structural stuff done, word-polishing attempted) and currently at about 90k words, though this may be subject to further scalpelling. Hopefully not much though… I’m getting it back from one editor tomorrow, but the other probably won’t finish with it till partway through April, so in the hiatus I’ll be inputting any edits from Julia and working on the other stories. Updates will follow….

So, progress! I am talking to a designer about covers for Song, and as soon as the final edits are back and input, that will be going off to the formatters. Hopefully sometime over the summer there might even be a release! Hurrah! I make no promises though, given my appalling record to date…

I know you are probably a bit cross as the one you really want to read is Book 3, but bear with me – at the moment I’m juggling 3 stories which is a silly idea… Soon to be 2 though, and with a bit of luck, in a couple of months’ time you’ll have something to be getting on with while I’m concentrating on untangling the events back in Scarlock where, let me tell you, it’s getting dangerous to leave the house at night. And WAIT till you find out a bit more about Copeland! Can’t wait tell you all the gossip I’ve discovered!

Right. Enough squeeing, more writing. I will be interested to see what you think, though, of all of them. Hopefully you will enjoy them even if they are sequentially challenged…. Also, if you haven’t signed up to the email list on Amazon.com (not UK, the one on the .com author page) please do as that way they’ll definitely tell you when the next one hits cyberspace. Which might not be so very long now, rah!

Well, that’s my fifteen mins of fresh air. Back to the writing cave!
Have a good one, all:
JAC

Rolling…

Hey peeps;

Book 3 now stands at sixty thousand words, up from 35k. Lots more to come but the story progresses!

Not much to report with Flight at the moment, but Song is going through a self-edit post-rewrites, slowly at the moment as it’s being fitted round Wrimo writing time, but creeping on. Quite excited about Song, actually.

Sprig of Holly is flying off the shelves! Over 450 downloads so far this month in the US alone! In celebration, I’m getting a new cover done, so watch this space for details of the reveal.

Lastly, a note from Dulcie Feenan, who tells me that readers considering taking a look at “Christmas comes to Oddleton” might like to know that it will be on sale at reduced price on Kindle around the weekend of 6th December.

Have a good evening, all!
JAC

Hey peeps;

Another check-in, briefly, because I’m saving all my word-time for writing!

As you know, I’m currently working on two novellas at once as well as Book 3… well, the first edit (the one I do) is now done on “Flight from Shantar” and it’s ready to go off to my editor. Why am I working on this before Book 3, you ask (and a few of you have done)?

Flight was originally written to be one of the ODS series, and the events in it happen concurrently with the first books; but to put it in the main series brings the timeline to a juddering halt. This is why this section was cut from Book 3 – but at the same time it’s a story which readers might like to hear; and so it’s going into the Parallels series.

It tells of the flight of the Mother of the Shantar from her homeland, across the border with the country of Mardon with Vansel’s crew, headed by disgraced Skral warrior Alaric. On the way, her trail is  picked up by the Mardonese army, who are still chasing her ten years after the war between the Shantar and the Mardonese. Alaric has to get the Mother across to Scarlock to pick up Jack and Vansel – but the mysterious Jonas has other ideas…

Anyhow; that one is a step further on, and I’m now putting the finishing touches to Song of the Ice Lord, of which more anon…

That’s it for now, but just an update so you know I haven’t forgotten you all!

Take care;

JAC

Oi, WordPress, what’s going on?! I just wrote a long post with the latest updates and  WordPress just ate it – it’s not even in Drafts! Grrr….

Okay, run out of time now. Potted version:

a) Happy Easter.

b) Snow. Oooh, cold! Big drifts in this neck of the world, most spectacular.

c) Busy! Lots of moving house and changing jobs of late but hopefully a quiet spell is due so a bit of editing is happening in spare moments.

What editing? Initial corrections on the bit cut from Book 3, which will be released as a separate in the Parallels series (current working title Flight from Shantar, but that’s a bit clunky I think. Thoughts, anyone?). When this is sent off to my excellent word-surgeon, last lot of corrections and inputs to be done for another short in the Parallels series, a bit of back story called Song of the Ice Lord at the current time. This is nearly done, and will then go to the formatter and (if enough remains for a paperback) to Regina for a cover as well.

Then I should be thoroughly back in the swing of writing and back up to speed for picking up Book 3 and seeing what happens next. I know, I know, it’s not put on a back-burner – only it will take a bit longer to finish, so I might as well get these ones out so you have something to read in the meantime.  Besides, then when you pick up Book 3, you’ll know how the Mother got there and who all the other characters are. Are there a lot of them? Of course there are. But I hope you’ll like spending time with them too…

d) Book 3 – still at 15k but ongoing plotting and planning means that soon as I’ve finished with the others, it should go quite quickly if nothing else happens to eat up my writing time. Watch this space.

Anyhow, going to sulk now as my first version was MUCH better and more eloquently written than this one. Not impressed, WordPress!

Have a lovely Easter, all;

JAC

 

 

 

Dear all:

More news from Weasel Green Press – my running mate Dulcie Feenan has offered 3 copies of her new paperback “Christmas comes to Oddleton” for a giveaway on Goodreads here:

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/44535-christmas-comes-to-oddleton

If anyone wants to enter for the chance to win one, please do! Another cover by the tremendously talented Regina Wamba of Mae I Design, Weasel Green’s favourite cover artist, and if you can read the blurb and not be intrigued, you’ve never experienced the chaos that is a school play…

Best of luck all!

JAC

Hey all, check this out!!

Jo Edwards,  my fellow author at Weasel Green Press, got her book Work Wife Balance reviewed in the Daily Mail Online, and they loved it!!

Jo’s book immediately shot up to #1 in Business Humour on UK Amazon so it is now legitimately a No. 1 Bestseller… It is very well-written and funny, and if there are any fans of The Office out there you are going to enjoy it a great deal.

(Buy-link from the review – I’m about 2/3rds of the way through it myself, and strongly recommend that you have a look….)

JAC

Hey all -

I have a really quick question for readers. The first post on this thread explains it and if you have a moment to just let me know your opinion I’d really appreciate it.

Post is here on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/897572-quick-yes-no-question-for-readers-please

and if you’re not a member, do leave your answer here as a comment or mail me on

jaclement [dot] ondarkshores [at] gmail [dot] com.

All feedback greatly appreciated!

Thanks guys:

JAC

Morning all -

and look what we have here! How will you recover from the excitement of not ONE but TWO new releases in ten days?! So, hopefully you all read Cambria’s story and left a review, right? (She wants to know what you think, you know). Well, just as you’re starting to look around and wonder what literary wonders you should segue onto, here for your delectation is a guest-blog by none other than CS Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles.

As regulars will know, Splitter is one of the more fnar-prone members of Creative Reviews and is a contributor to (not to mention the main instigator of) the Christmas Lites Anthology due out next week, so do comment, heckle, or if you feel really inspired, Tweet the link to his new book, out 21st November! I can’t comment just yet as my copy is still on the Kindle which is locked firmly in a drawer till I’ve got ODS2 out for you, but the goss down in Creative Reviews is that the Crayder Chronicles rock…. and that’s just the more critical reviews!

I have been warned by two or three persons of good judgement that Tom Crayder as a character is going to infuriate me until I accidentally end up liking him! So I for one am really looking forward to having a read, and judging by the first chapter which I have seen, you should BY NO MEANS believe Splitter when he says he sucks. Methinks the writer doth protest too much….

So read his blog, admire the covers, Tweet the link and do go check out the samples on Amazon. I mean, you could always throw underwear but there’s a bit of a cross-wind at the moment so it’d probably hit Bill Oddie or someone. Me, I’d go for the Tweet but then perhaps Bill Oddie would appreciate the attention, who knows? I’ll leave it to your good selves….

And so without further ado, let me hand you over to the lovely C.S Splitter!

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splitter crayder chronicles

C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles

Name: C.S. Splitter

Author of: The Reluctant and The Willing

Genre/s: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Humor, Crime

P- or e-book: Both books are available as eBooks right now (The Willing to be released November 21st)  and will be available in print early in 2012.

Available from:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Crayder-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004VS751O/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52864

Journal Stone:  http://journal-store.com/bookstore/the-reluctant/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/c-s-splitter

ibooks:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-reluctant/id449636851?mt=11

and other internet resellers.  Books are also available through other internet retailers and on Amazon’s international sites (UK, Germany, etc..)

One-sentence summary:

The justice system failed but Tom Crayder will not.

One-sentence biog:

C.S. Splitter is a business man, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat.

Your links:

Blog – http://splittersworld.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002241805910

Twitter:  @SplitterCS


Book cover Reluctant Crayder Chronicles SplitterCS Splitter Crayder Chronicles 2 The Willing

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Indie Mistakes and Lessons

Since I will never be able to convince you, the reader, that I am an expert in the field of self publishing, let me take the easy route and convince you that I am stupid.  I see that look on your face – you are already believing me.  Good!  Here we go:

One of my earliest memories as a child was sitting on someone’s hip in the kitchen, either my grandmother or my mother (they were both there), and being told not to touch the hot stove.  I do not remember the pain, but I remember the angry red circles on my palm and the commotion that ensued among the adults.  They were right; the stove was hot.

Apparently, I need to figure out things for myself.  I am dense like that and have a whole file full of stories from my life to prove it.  You do not have to be so dense and you will not be if you read on.

In 2010, ideas for a character and then for a story hit me.  Hard.  I had to write it.

That lightning bolt from the heavens came a decade too late.  I had spent more than ten years trying to come up with an idea for a fantasy book, my favorite genre to read.  I would get an idea, begin to outline it or write it, and then realize that it had been done before and probably in a better way than I could ever hope to duplicate.  I gave up writing fiction.

It did not matter that, when I finally got a good and original idea, it was in a totally different genre without swords, or castles, or princesses to rescue.  I had to write it.  It was that powerful.  The will to write fiction was back in a big way.

I began enthusiastically tapping away on my laptop and the first few chapters flew by.  I bogged down in the middle of the book and had to abandon my original outline for an even better idea.  I struggled through that period and, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story” just flowed until the end.

I did it!  I wrote a book.  I did a little dance, consumed some alcohol, and dreamt of the fame and fortune that would be coming my way.  I had no idea whether or not the work was any good, but the dreaming was fun.  For a while.

Reality set in when I re-read my book.  The story…well, in all modesty…I think it was good.  The writing seemed fine, too.  After all, I had read hundreds of books in my life and knew how to spell and punctuate and not end a sentence in a preposition.  At least, I thought I did.

I had to make hundreds of corrections on my subsequent readings.  After about six re-reads and self-edits, it was ready to release.  I hated my own book by that point because I could almost recite it verbatim.  People read it and liked it—and sent me emails showing me where mistakes still lurked.  I fixed them and put out ten or more revised versions.  Everything had to be fixed by then, right?  Right?

Not by a long shot.  By the time the book had ten reviews, all four and five stars, there were still problems.  My readers, as thorough as they were, did not catch all of the book’s flaws.  But, the story and the characters were good enough to make them like the book.

By the time I figured this out, I was mostly done with the first draft of the second book in the series (The Crayder Chronicles).  I didn’t need to beg (as much) for alpha and beta readers for the second book because I had the contact information for some readers who liked the first book.  My alpha/beta readers are the BEST!  They tore into the second book and sent me lists of little errors that needed correcting.

Every time I made corrections on the second book, I sent out a revised file to the beta readers.  Right down to the last one, they kept finding little errors.  I was well on my way to having to publish the second book, The Willing, and do many revisions just like I had done with the first book.

Did I really want to repeat those mistakes?  Did I really want early readers getting less than my best effort?  Did I really want to keep finding little typos and having to correct them by updating the files on sites like Amazon and Smashwords?

No, I did not.  I am not really bright, but I do try to learn as I go and, as a side note, I have never laid my hand flat on a red hot stove burner again (at least, not on purpose).  I got an editor, Tricia Kristufek.  I call her the “Comma Queen.”  She started with my second book and worked her way back through the first book.

It was apparent that after all of the “cloud editing” that my alpha and beta readers did for me and even after readers pointed out typos as they praised the characters and story, I still sucked as a writer.

“Sucked” is a harsh word.  I guess I didn’t suck compared to some of the bad indie work I have seen out there, but I wasn’t “clean” either.  I did not want to be one of “those” indie authors who put out junk, so I got an editor.  A real editor who could give the books a little polish.  My editor showed me why “sucked” was really not too strong a term for me.

I say all of that to say this: learn from my mistakes.  That is lesson one.  Do not touch hot stoves and do not needlessly cause yourself heartache and embarrassment.  I have already done that for you!

It is terribly embarrassing, in retrospect, to know that the there were still too many mistakes in the first book, even with the last revision, before I had it edited.  How many potential readers downloaded those first couple chapters and noticed something that turned them off?  How many publishers?

See—I have bad habits as a writer.  I can say that freely because if you are a writer, you probably have some too.  I even see bad habits FREQUENTLY on display from well known authors from Big Six publishing houses.

So here is lesson two: You are making mistakes in your writing that you do not even realize and you need someone looking over your shoulder from a totally new perspective that will point them out to you.  Get an editor.  Somehow, some way, get an editor.  See lesson one for a refresher on “why.”

Because I am doomed to analyze positively everything, I thought back and tried to figure out why I had made the mistake of putting out that first book too quickly and with too many errors.  I thought back to how I felt when I was writing that book and how wonderful it felt when I “finished” it.  That was it!  I rushed the book out to be published because I was excited and because I did not know any better.

Lesson three: There is no hurry.  Wait.  Refine.  Think about it.  Do some research.  If you have read this far, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing better…I took care of that for you by making those mistakes already.  See lesson one!

Am I sorry I made so many mistakes with the first book?  Not really.  It turned out just fine in the end.  The characters and the story were always good, or so I have been told.  The writing was where I was mostly falling short and that was fixable.

Plus, I found some wonderful alpha and beta readers that will, hopefully, be available to me as I put out future books in the series.  I made friends that included other authors and bunches of readers and reviewers.

I have one more lesson for you today, take it for what it is worth: your cover is probably bad and is costing you sales.  Did I mention how bad my original covers probably were?  I say “probably” because, as someone who lacks any hint of artistic ability, I made them.  So, when I decided to finally start marketing the series, I started working with Dafeenah from IndieDesignz.  I basically just said, “Here is what my story is about, here are the themes I want to follow, please make me a good cover.”  She delivered in a HUGE way for the cover of The Reluctant.

Here is where the writer of this article should double back and convince you, once again, that he/she is such an expert that you should be following his/her advice.  I will tell you truthfully; I am no expert.  I am just an indie writer fighting his way through this new aspect of the publishing industry.  All I can really tell you is that I am, or have been, where you are or were.  That’s not far yet, but maybe someday…

Splitter

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So once again, many thanks to Splitter for coming to play today! His new book The Willing is out on 21st, so do check out The Reluctant if you haven’t already looked.

Next week, we have a Q&A with Shane Porteous who will tell us a little about his  new book – one for the werewolf fans among you, he tells me! And further down the line we will have blogs from MTMaguire and Lexi Revellian and if all goes to plan, quite possibly On Dark Shores 2: The Other Nereia though that will be further into December.

So as always, add your comments below and tell us if you’ve already read The Reluctant, what you know of The Willing,and indeed whether your undies hit Bill Oddie after all…

Have a great weekend, peeps!

JAC

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