Wednesday, 27 March 2013

I love writing

Very obvious statement I suppose saying ‘I like writing’, but it’s very true.  I am immensely enjoying writing.

The 2nd Draft of the 2nd Novel has been printed off and I am reviewing and editing all 86 pages.  Still a lot of scenes to fill in and fill out but definitely on the right track and more importantly, on schedule!

Likewise, big news this week is I have signed up with the author and readers website run by Harper & Collins publishers.  This website allows authors to upload their books, get them reviewed and if enough positive comments are passed on about the book, the editors at Harper & Collins may take an interest in it.  You never know.

So I’m going to make at least a few of the chapters of the first book available on Authonomy and if there is enough interest maybe the whole book depending.  You can only view the book on the authonomy website, not download or otherwise, so it should be ok.  We’ll see.

The book will of course still be available for purchase on Kindle.

I also have plans to make the book available on Kobo, Google Play and WHSmith but I need to investigate just how their own upload processes work.  This will happen sometime in May as I’m still tied in with Amazon Kindle till then.

Finally, as usual, a little short story for you all.  It’s another Infinity the game themed story, part based on the campaign we are running at the wargaming club.  For those familiar with the infinity background, this doesn’t tie in with the official background but was a nice little experiment in character interaction in a Sci-fi setting.  Hope you enjoy, even those who may not be familiar with the infinity background and setting.

Till next time.

* * * * *

The clear windowed doors of the plush high rise office slide open soundlessly, and Chandra Spec-Ops commander Jane Halliday marched in.  Clad in the full battle uniform of the Assault Sub Section, Jane looked out of place amongst the sickeningly peaceful setting.  Her sharp silver eyes told of a battle hardened warrior woman, her short blond hair pulled back in a ponytail and her face hawk like.  She had a bored disinterested expression already prepared.

Here we go.

“Jane!  How lovely to see you.” beamed Diane Kildra, standing up from behind her expansive office desk and walking round to meet her colleague. 

The two women could not have been more different.  Diane was dressed in a figure hugging light grey dress, trimmed in the traditional ALEPH purple.  It was designed to perfectly emphasis her curvaous figure, in stark contrast to the angular battle armour Jane was clad in.  She had high cheek bones, a wide friendly (if false) grin and bright, captivating blue eyes.  Her face was framed by short brown hair, and her long eyelashes and expertly applied eye-liner spoke of a woman used to being obeyed without question and swooned over without argument.

Jane rolled her eyes.  “I see you’ve gained a few pounds since last we met.”

Diane stopped mid stride.  She burst into laughter. 
“We are witty today.” She said, rolling her own eyes in mock annoyance.  The remark, after all, referred to an impossible situation.  Both of them were installed into the latest L-hosts; the very best synthetic bodies ALEPH could provide.  Diane was crafted within the most advanced civilian diplomatic model, built as the perfect unit to conduct business with; particularly for men.  Jane, meanwhile, was in the female variant of the special operations combat L-host.  Immensely strong, formidably well engineered and battle tested in a dozen different war-zones.  One to kill, the other to captivate; two different styles of warfare, at least as far as ALEPH was concerned.

“I’m in the mood.” Jane remarked.  “At least for now.  That is unless the reason you’ve brought me here turns out to be another one of your pointless little face-to-face visits.  In which case, I fear, my mood will darken.”
Diane pouted.  “Touché.” she remarked, spinning on her heel and swaying her hips as she returned to her table.
Hasn’t she ever heard of jeans and T-shirt? Thought Jane inwardly
“I would offer you a seat but you never accept one.” Diane said over her shoulder
“Yeah, I’m that kind of girl.”

Jane approached the table, allowing Diane to activate the holo-imager attached to it.
“What do you want Diane?”
“Patience Jane, patience.” From a desk drawer Diane retrieved a small paper packet.  From the plain none-descript packet she retrieved a cigarette.
“You don’t mind?” she asked Jane.  Jane raised an eyebrow.
“Is there really any point?”

Dianne shrugged, lighting the cigarette with a small golden lighter she had taken from the same drawer.
“It’s a good question.” She took a puff, letting the smoke waft from her mouth and nostrils.  “The tobacco and nicotine don’t affect my synthetic body in the slightest.  The various chemicals in this pointless smoke stick are completely nullified by my built-in scrubber and detoxification systems.  I can neither taste nor smell the smoke, and neither can you, as your automatic systems phase out the horrible chemical taste.”
She regarded the cigarette for a moment, before taking another puff.
“And yet…”

“You know I can come back if you and the cigarette need a moment alone.” Said Jane, deadpan.
Diane smiled without looking up.
“Actually, it illustrates a point rather well.”
She turned toward Jane, the smile on her face now changed; to one that suggested that at last, she was getting to her point.
“Mankind, indeed woman kind, has a terrible tendency to continue doing things that are either bad for them or pointless.  Or both.  Take for example our current situation on Paradiso.”
She waved a hand at the holo-imager.  The gesture recognition systems activated, uploading and displaying the pre-programmed video holographic replays.  Suddenly across the front of the table various security camera video feeds appeared, suspended in mid-air as if by invisible threads.  Visions of war played out in front of Jane.

“They’ve been busy then.” Remarked Jane, her built-in comlog already downloading the video sequences and attached intelligence notes for later analysis.
“Indeed.  That’s why you’re here.”
“In-fighting isn’t something new.”
“The reason for this in-fighting is.” Said Diane, her expression now much more serious as she set the cigarette in an ash tray that had rose up from the innards of the table, and started to pace.

“Let me tell you a tale.” She said next, clasping her hands behind her, tone now businesslike.  “Approximately a week ago an unknown data source was detected by several of our allies, originating within the Combined Armies zone of control.  Being the good little co-operators that they are, they immediately scrambled a variety of emergency retrieval teams.  Characteristically they then set upon each other like ravenous dogs.  At the various detected data sites, they tore each other apart in order to acquire the data source for themselves.  Some succeeded, some did not.” 

She turned on her heel, retracing her steps as she continued.  Jane tracked her movements.

“The data source lead to another site not far away.  Once again, retrieval teams descended, proceeded to kill each other and eventually, it was the Yu Jing who acquired something very valuable.”

She gestured to one of the replaying videos.  It grew in size and sharpness before stopping, magnifying on a Yu Jing Hackers data sleeve.  The enhanced holographic image focused and sharpened on what looked like a holographic representation of an organic, pillar like structure projecting from the hacker’s comlog.

“Cosmolite.  So far, so usual-business.”
“Yes, we thought the same.  But then we realised…this ones transmitting.”
Jane frowned.
“Go on.”
Diane, relishing her story telling, did just that.
“Unfortunately for the Yu Jing, the Old Man of the Mountain got wind of their little discovery.  He beat them too it and acquired, as far as we can tell, some kind of alien black box.  Even after a carefully executed ambush, the Japanese did not retrieve the alien artefact and the Bahram assassins escaped with it.”

Diane gestured to the display again.  A new video emerged from the background gaggle, melting through the first.  This one showed what appeared to be the inside of a building and Ariadna forces moving stealthy through the corridors.

“Our story gets better.  The Nomads retrieved vital data on the alien artefact even if they could not acquire it directly.  Two of their research sites on Paradiso, which happened to house the information, then suffered almost simultaneous biological alerts.  During one of those biological alerts, Ariadna and Pan Oceania forces infiltrated the research positions.  They acquired a great deal data.”
Diane chuckled for a moment.
“As well as providing me great amusement.”
Jane turned her frown toward Diane.
“I’m serious, watch the feedback.  Never have I seen a Black Ops operation turn into a comedy show so quickly.  I recommend watching the scene where the Pan Oceania hacker meets the Ariadnian Chasseur.  The two of them just don’t know what to do.”
Jane’s deadpan expression did not change.
“Anyway.” Continued Diane, taking the hint.  “The second infiltration will be of greater interest to you.”

By her command, the display now showed another video playback.  In holographic detail, it showed Nomad forces exchanging fire with figures in the distance.  A zoom in on a stilled image and a quick enhance…and the identity of the figures was suddenly apparent.
“Tohaa.” Growled Jane, crossing her arms.  “I thought first contact had not been officially confirmed with them?”
“It hasn’t.” said Diane, freeze framing the image of a Tohaa soldier in mid firing position.  “They shouldn’t be on Paradiso.  And they certainly shouldn’t be attacking their allies.”

Diane flicked her wrist and the display melted away before the two women.  At the same time, Jane’s comlog chimed internally, indicating that her download of the intelligence data was complete.
“Command wants you on standby, 24 hour notice.”
“For what?” queried Jane, eyeing her colleague
“For war, if necessary.  It has been decided that whatever that alien tech is, it is not to be left in the hands of one human faction or another.  And certainly not in the hands of the Tohaa.”
“When you say alien, you mean this tech is neither Combined Army nor Tohaa?”
“Yes, that is our assumption.” Confirmed Diane, taking a seat again and reaching for her still smouldering cigarette.  “Combined army have tried to retrieve the data and artefacts without successful.  Likewise, the Tohaa attack on the Nomad research station indicates that they, too, want that technology.  This is alien in the truest use of word.  Alien tech being pursued by other Aliens, as well as us.”
“I’ll assemble a team.” Acknowledged Jane, activating her comlog.  In her background vision, various veteran Assault section personnel profiles floated, ready for analysis.
“It’ll be rapid deployment on short notice I take it?”
“Yes.  Be ready Jane.”

With a curt nod Jane turned and strode from the office. 
“Diane.” She said over her shoulder as she entered the buildings lift.
Jane turned just inside the lift doors, the barest hint of a smirk on her features.  She paused for effect.
“Purples not your colour.”
The lift doors shut, just as Diane was opening her mouth.  She made a face as she flicked ash from her cigarette.
“I hate it when a Chandra grows a sense of humour.” She muttered to herself.

Monday, 18 March 2013

I hate having the cold :(

Unfortunately I have had the cold this past week on and off so haven't had a chance to write a proper blog update.

However, progress is being made on the 2nd Novel, 2nd draft.  I reached the halfway point on the 16th March and am continuing to write well.  In between sneezing of course.  I've also been reading the Writers and Artists Yearbook and its making a lot of sense.  Starting to get a strategy for publishing together but its slow going.

As a little treat, the short story I present to you this week is my Paradiso Fan Fiction competition entry from a couple of months back.  I hope you all like, especially the Infinity the Game players.  

Hope you all manage to avoid the cold.  I can advise against the experience!

* * * * *

Friendly Fire

By Vedal Slayer

Marie-Ann, 1er Regiment de Para-Commandos, stood up, reaching for the computer tablet secured on the transport planes low ceiling.  Long blond hair, tied in twinned braided ponytails, cascaded down her back.  Her sharp feline features frowned ever so slightly as she unlocked the two security tabs that held the tablet in place.  She paused for a moment, green eyes blinking.  She let out an exasperated sigh.

“They're called hips Jean-Paul, and you can stop staring at them.”

She glanced over her shoulder, as the young Jean-Paul rather lamely found the ceiling of the MX-47 assault transport suddenly very interesting.  The new paratrooper was a youthful eighteen years old and evidently straight out of boot camp.  For a paratrooper he seemed very wet behind the ears and despite excellent scores in parachuting and heavy weapons use, Marie-Ann had her doubts as to whether he was the right kind of soldier for the Ariadnian Expeditionary Force.

But needs must.

Moi-du.” muttered Claude, seated opposite the young man and shaking his head, doing nothing to mask his amusement.  Claude was the most veteran of the three of them, two years on Marie-Ann's four year service.  He was a big man, perhaps too big to be a paratrooper.  He had wide shoulders, thick powerful muscles and a wicked sense of humour.  He was the groups support gunner, cradling his light machine-gun as they awaited the drop point.

Rolling her eyes, Marie-Ann retrieved the tablet regardless and twisted to sit down again.  As she activated the battered computer and waited for the digital display to boot up, she glanced over again at Jean-Paul.  He was still managing to look embarrassed behind his jump goggles.

“Were there no beautiful jeunes filles at the training academy?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes madam, but...ah”

“But what?”

There was a long, awkward pause.  Mercifully for Jean-Paul, Claude broke the silence with typical directness. 

“But none of them had as perfectly formed an arse as yours, Madam Sergeant.”

Jean-Paul seemed to go bright red, while Marie-Ann glared across at her partner.

“You know the rule.  You get one per jump, that's it.”

Claude shrugged his huge shoulders with an accompanying boyish grin, seemingly unaffected by Marie-Ann's demeanour.  “That's why I made it a good one.”

“I'm surrounded by man-idiots.” muttered Marie-Ann as the tablet came alive at last, the aged and scratched interface screen lighting up.   Immediately it displayed the mission area overlaid by a 3D satellite geo-image.

“The coordinates command passed to us mean we should be able to rendezvous with the patrol party relatively quickly.  That's assuming we've been provided with accurate maps this time.” 

“Hmpt.  Lots of trees.”Claude said sagely, leaning over to look at the tablet display.   “Did our honoured hosts remember we don't use the fancy jet pack toys?”

“The exact words used were 'be assured the clearing will be large enough to allow for parachute drop'.”  She cast both of them a sideways look.  “The O-12 people use the word 'assured' far too often for my liking.  At least we're not jumping into a fire fight this time, just a meet up with a standard combat sweep.”

“Assume the LZ will be tight” Marie-Ann said next, reaching above her to stow the tablet.  “Keep good control of your chutes and a close eye on your oxygen.  Don't get dispersed, we want to all land in one piece.  Understood?”

“Yes ma'am” replied the boys in unison.

“And Jean-Paul.” Marie-Ann eyed the new recruit as she spoke, flicking her twinned ponytails back behind her head and securing them with a hair clip.
“If I catch you staring at my ass on the way down...”
She locked him with her brokers-no-argument stare and paused to allow him time to go red.
“I will eat your spleen.”

Claude leaned in, his expression one of mock seriousness.
“She will too.” he stated truthfully.

* * * * *

“Not bad,” commented Marie-Ann as she kept her rifle up, covering Jean-Paul who was busy pulling his pack and chute into the safety of the clearings edge.  “you jump well.”
“Thank you ma'am.”

They had jumped successfully onto the O-12 cleared area.  Their hosts had at least got the location information right.  Around them the forest was awash with trees and creepers, the atmosphere thick with moisture and unnaturally silent.

“I could almost forgive you for leering at me on the way down.  I do hope you enjoyed the view.”
Marie-Ann was rewarded with another deeply embarrassed expression from the young man, an expression that was all too quickly becoming his trademark.
“Now, hand me your spleen.”

“Comms appear awfully silent madam.”reported Claude, interrupting the two of them as he moved up to crouch beside them.  The cheekiness was gone, replaced with the veteran soldier that Claude truly was.
“We should at least be getting background chatter from other units.” Marie-Ann frowned.  “I don't like it.”
“Could be the forest?” Claude hazarded, casting his eye round the seemingly endless greenly that encompassed them.  “This planet is strange, even more so than home.”

Marie-Ann had to agree.  Paradiso was alien, much more alien than Dawn and that was saying something.  The clearing they had jumped into had only been cleared a few hours ago, some of the trees still showing signs of chemical destruction.  Yet it had still been hazardous.  The lush forests here were voracious, regaining the land they had lost with vigour.  The native species were openly hostile; Marie-Ann had already crushed the head of a snake that had snapped at her as she was clearing her chute .

The planet doesn't like us.

“Claude, take point, we'll proceed on mission.  I'll take the comms.  Jean-Paul you'll take six.”
She was business-like as she gave her orders. 

“During which,” she added, “You will keep your eyes everywhere except my backside.”
She glared at the young recruit and he had the good sense to cower before her.

Satisfied, the three of them headed cautiously into the deep jungle.

* * * * *

“What the hell is going on?” Marie-Ann hissed to no one in particular, leaning up against the nearest tree for cover and sighting down her rifle.
“I do not know madam,” said Claude next to her, training his weapon likewise.  “but it sounds very much like our patrol is in contact and raising Merovingia brand havoc.”

They had been moving through the jungle for only ten minutes when the sounds of fighting had drifted through the dense foliage; the whip crack of automatic weapons mixed with the tell-tale rumble of explosions.  It was not a good sign.

“But with who?  That doesn't sound like alien weaponry.”

“No.” agreed Claude.  He cast Marie-Ann a rare serious look,  “Sounds more familiar.”

Marie-Ann put her hand to her ear, activating her short range comms link.

“Delta four, this is Maverick six, we're moving in on your six o'clock, requesting sitrep.”

“Maverick six...Delta four.” replied the radio almost instantly, the connection heavy with interference, a strong French accent responding. 
“Heavy co...multiple tan...pan ocea...”

Jean-Paul looked round from a few feet behind the two veterans. “Did he just say...?”
“Watch your six!” snapped Marie-Ann almost automatically, causing the youngster to flinch and resume his watch.
“Delta four, Maverick six.” Marie-Ann again spoke into her microphone,  “Repeat please, did you just say Pan Oceania?”

“Maver...confirmed...heavy con...oceania!”

Damn it.

“What do we do?” asked Claude. 

Marie-Ann's expression hardened.  “Our job.”

“Claude, weapons free, you know the drill.  Jean-Paul with me.  We'll flank them.  Wait for my signal.”
Oui madam” said Claude.  Immediately he rose from his position and was bounding quickly through the thick jungle, making his way through the creepers and trees toward the fighting.  Marie-Ann beckoned Jean-Paul to follow her, her posture hunched as the two of them took the route at an angle to the source of the shooting.

“Time to go hunting.” she stated bluntly, rechecking her rifle and flicking the fire selector to automatic.  “And time for you to live up to your grenade launcher scores Jean-Paul.”
“I will Madam.” stated the boy.  Marie-Ann looked over to find the newbie rechecking his weapon, winding the clockwork mechanism of his grenade launchers circular magazine in preparation.  His reply had been very businesslike; she decided that was a good sign.
“Lets go.” she ordered.

* * * * *

“In position” Claude radioed 5 minutes later.  Perfect timing thought Marie-Ann as she and Jean-Paul made it to their own starting position.  What they saw brought back painful memories of the corporate battles that had ravaged their own planet.

They had come out on a low ridge, over looking a battle in progress below them. 

The area was obviously a drop ship landing site, though by the looks of it not one that had been recently used.  The whole area was encompassed by thick tree's and creepers, the buildings obvious only by their outlines amongst the greenery.  A battle was in full swing.  Tracer fire criss-crossed what seemed to be an evenly matched fight between Ariadna troops and a Pan Oceania squad.  Even through the tree's and bushes Marie-Ann could see the dark blue uniforms of several Metro's exchanging fire with Fusiliers taking shelter in a bombed out and overgrown bunker.  Nearby the bulky form of an Orc trooper, braced by a tree trunk, was blazing away with his MULTI-rifle at a heavy machine-gun Moblot position.  Individual or group duals were taking place all across the site but mostly around the smoking remains of a dropship visible at the far end of the relatively clear landing strip.

Here and there, bodies lay where they had fallen, evidence of a battle that had been taking place for some time.

Marie-Ann took it all in, grim faced.  Determination gripped her. 

So much for friendly fire.

She pushed her comm-link.
“Cover us Claude, I'm going for the left flank.”
Seconds later the familiar angry rattle of a Ariadnian manufactured machine-gun echoed through the forest.  With a hand signal Marie-Ann bid Jean-Paul to follow her.  They ran quickly, dodging through the low hanging vines and tree trunks as Claude blazed a path in front of them.

An Orc trooper emerged from the tree line to their left, MULTI-rifle up and scanning for the source of the machine-gun fire. 

Marie-Ann fired a three round burst into the giant armour suited figure, causing him to stagger back into the foliage, his own return fire flying wide.  She dived for cover behind a thick tree trunk as Jean-Paul came up beside her.  Sensibly, the boy had switched to his rifle, his grenade launcher slung over his back.  She patted him on the shoulder, and signed to him their attack plan.

Three, two, one.

They both ducked round the tree and fired at the same time from kneeling positions.  The Orc trooper, not expecting two attacks from different angles was caught unawares.  Both paratroopers emptied a clip into him, bullets ricochetting off his armour plate.  He staggered back before one of the bullets hit a weak spot in his neck armour and tore out his throat.  He collapsed back, gasping for breath with sickening wet gurgles.

Marie-Ann wasted no time, bounding toward the fallen enemy.  She dropped her empty magazine as she ran and had rammed home a fresh one by the time she covered the distance to the fallen warrior.  She kicked the MULTI-rifle from the mans grasp as he brought it up in a last futile gesture, before stamping on his already wounded neck.  She heard the distinctive crack of bone and the trooper lay still.  Jean-Paul joined her, having switched back to his grenade launcher.  The boy's adrenaline was up now.

She patted him on the shoulder again, pointing off to the left.  The boy nodded, moving up from his position and...
The bullet impacted through his shoulder, spinning him round and rolling him onto the ground.  Marie-Ann's weapon was aimed and firing half a clip in the direction of the crack of the sniper shoot.  Up a tree her bullets shredded the timber to dust and caused something to flinch, its form translucent like water.


Wasting no time she was up from her crouch and grabbing Jean-Paul by his backpack.  The boy was in pain, cursing through clinched teeth and trying to bring his grenade launcher round to fire.  Marie-Ann fired another long burst one-handed in the direction of the Croc.  She must have succeeded in keeping the snipers head down for no more deadly rounds came chasing her.  She was able to drag Jean-Paul round behind the tree they had previous used to ambush the Orc.

The boys breath was coming in short rasps of obvious pain.
“Lie still.” she ordered, dropping her guns empty magazine and reloading a third time, now more concerned as she cast around for more enemies.  Her hand went to her comm-link again.
“Delta four this is Maverick six, I have one man down, requesting medic.”
“Confirmed Maverick six, this is Delta three.” came a surprising clear reply.  “I'm inbound.”
“Watch your route, we're under sniper fire.”

“I know.” said the Emergency 112 medic as he leapt down beside Marie-Ann.  He was fortunate not to get a face full of rifle-butt.  She didn't bother to ask were the hell he had come from and just let the man do his job.
“Watch yourself.  He's up in the trees.”

“Not for long.” said the medic, nodding to his right before he bent to the task of checking Jean-Paul.  Marie-Ann frowned before looking to were the medic had indicated.  From the undergrowth nearby rose the formidable form of a Moblot, carrying a primed panzerfaust.
Their was a flash and hiss, then a thump as the rocket hit the tree were the Croc trooper had been.  A body fell with the shower of leaves.

Good shooting.

“Delta six to all Delta call signs.  Enemy is falling back to a dropship.  Let them go.  We'll deal with them later.”
“He's just letting the bastards get away?” cursed Marie-Ann, looking to the medic for an explanation.
“Yes I am.” Said the Moblot coming up on the three of them, dropping his panzerfaust as he approached.  He evidently didn't fear any additional sniper fire for his pose was relaxed.  “They didn't come here to fight us.  We just happened to interrupt their little party.”
He pointed across the clearing.

From the direction of the destroyed dropship, Marie-Ann could see a Metro and a Chasseur hoisting a wounded man in muddy work fatigues, his leg a bloody bandaged mess.  He looked Asian, his uniform dark orange and yellow.
“Yu Jing.” stated the Moblot bluntly.  “Engineer by the looks of him.  He should be able to tell us why this mess happened.”

“Bastards.” muttered Marie-Ann, her attention now returning to Jean-Paul.
The doctor had removed the boys jump goggles and his face was contorted in pain.  He was very pale.
“How is he?”
“In pain, but stable.” Stated the medic.  “He's lucky, the bullet went straight through him.  For once we should be thankful they use armour piercing rounds.”
Marie-Ann nodded.  Losing a rookie on his first combat jump was the height of bad luck.

At this point Claude appeared, coming upon on them as the Ariadna forces regrouped.  In the distance, the sound of weapons fire had been replaced with that of chopper engines; the extraction craft were inbound.
“Hell of a first day for the boy.” commented Claude as he looked over the rookies wounded body.
“Doc says he's stable.” said Marie-Ann.  She looked up at the big man and gave him a rare smile.  “But your right.”

“At least...I'll have a war wound.” breathed Jean-Paul.  Marie-Ann looked to him in surprise, finding the boy looking up through his pained expression, trying to smile through the discomfort and the effects of the medics meds. 

Despite the situation both she and Claude laughed.

“That you will boy.” chuckled Claude.  “For the jeunes filles!

* * * * *

Monday, 11 March 2013

Now we're getting somewhere!

What a confident sounding title!  But it’s true, I am getting somewhere.

Work on the second draft of the second novel is proceeding at a good pace.  It would be nice to boost speed a little more to make the deadline of the end of March more definite but there a just only so many hours in a day!  It is good progress though, a lot of scenes are starting to come together nicely and the characters are all having meaningful conversations to advance the plot.

I’m doing my best to spend at least a little time on the novel each day, even if it’s something as simple as tidying up a scene or writing some dialogue.  True, I did manage to have some difficulty over the weekend involving a faulty pen drive, blue screen of death and corrupted novel files but thankfully, one has backups, recovery programs and a working laptop!

I’ve also had progress with the printing of the first book.  At the moment, two big options are open to me.

The first is vanity publishing.  I have been in touch with two local paper-publishers who will print the book for a fee.  Buying in bulk seems to be the best idea as it’s the cheapest per book and seems easy enough considering all they need is the cover and manuscript.  The difficulty then is marketing the printed book; getting the word out and selling it on.  Obviously I can do it individually with friends and family but if go for a very big order of books I’m going to need an online medium to sell them on and get a lot of marketing on the go.  That will take time.

Twitter and facebook might help with that, particularly now as a business colleague of mine has given me some very interesting ideas regards getting noticed on Twitter that I’ve not tried yet.  The option is there and the vanity-publishers have confirmed that the current quote they have given me is valid for a few months.  I have time to think and maybe investigate some new strategies.

Option two is of course getting it published properly.  In this vain progress has at last been made as I have got hold of the book ‘Writers and Artist yearbook 2013’.  It’s been recommended by friends and a few authors I’ve been in touch with and I must say, they were spot on.  It’s an excellent book, listing publishers and agents, as well as a lot of helpful info on how to get published.  I’m working my way through it and already seeing a lot of potential.  The problem is that, say I did successfully impress a publisher with the work, it would still take a long time until the book was published in paper-back and I’d have no control over price, location etc.  Then again, the opportunities that would open up could be immense.

Both the options offer big opportunities.  I shall investigate both further and see how things go whilst I try and sort book two.

Finally, I’m a man of my word.  I said I’d be posting more interesting content and so I shall!  Below is a short story I wrote late last year as part of the little competition between K, Matt and me.  This ones inspiration was ‘A detective who is scared of mirrors’ and was originally supposed to be only 400 words long I think.  I have since spell and grammar checked it since the original writing (wasn’t that well checked over originally, bad me) and its possibly a little longer now.  I hope you enjoy.

Until next time all

* * * * *

            “Good to see you sir.”  said the NYPD officer, beckoning Jacob to follow him. 
            Detective lieutenant Jacob Kingston fell into step behind the officer as he was lead through the police lines.  His partner, detective Laura Barnes, did likewise.  The call had come through over the radio.  Homicide at the Newquay fair park.  It was a not-so-lovely little run-down fair park, often frequented by the nastier drug dealers and gangs of the city.  Police stayed away, leaving the forgotten attraction well alone.  That was until two people were found dead.  Jacob, and his partner Laura, had to find out the who, what, when, where and how.  And fast. 
            The scum would be held at bay for only so long.
            “What'ah we got Sanders?” asked Jacob as he strode ahead of Laura, his longer stride leaving his shorter subordinate in his wake.
            “Same as what we radioed sir.” said Sanders, passing through the ageing Newquay entrance.  They moved deeper into the old fair ground, passing a small rusted ferris wheel, a merry-go round that didn't look quite so merry no more and a haunted house with building integrity issues.
            Jacob was about to ask just where the crime scene was when Sanders halted and pointed.
            “Right in there sir.”
            Jacob looked to were Sanders was indicating.  His eyes went wide and his face paled a little.
            Of all the buildings this one was actually in relatively good condition.  Whilst the yellow paint that adored its front was flaking, the attractions name was still clearly printed in a bright red across the yellow background.
            Hall of Mirrors.
            Oh crap.
            Panting, Laura came up on the two men just as Sanders turned to head back to his position on the line.
            “Thanks for waiting!” Laura snapped sarcastically, casting Jacob her best 'pissed off lady' look.
            Jacob was still staring, biting his lip.  Laura’s enraged expression quickly turned confused.
            “What?  It’s the hall of mirrors.”
            “Oh...” Jacob paused for words.
            “Yeah” he settled on rather unconvincingly.
            “You alright?” asked Laura next, frowning.  “You’re sweating.”
            “Fine!...just, fine.” Jacob fumbled for a handkerchief he kept in his trouser pocket.  He wiped his brow.  “Just the heat you know?”
            With a distinct lack of confidence, Jacob started toward his childhood nightmares made real.  Laura followed, after tracking Jacob with a raised eyebrow.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

More Progress!

Well there has been progress, and good progress, all around.

I've been working away on the second draft of the second novel now, already starting to tighten up the story structure and define the characters more clearly. Everyone has their part to play. The plan now is simple:

End of March 2013 = finish second draft.
End of April 2013 = finish third draft and get cover sorted.
End of May 2013 = deploy draft to proof readers.
June 2013 = complete final draft with proof reader comments.
1st July 2013 = book released!

Yes I know, very ambitious of me. But I've got to have something to work toward to drive me and get this next book finished. I'm determined to finish it in 6 months and 2 months have already passed.

I have also taken another step toward making the current novel more widely available by enrolling with Google Books, part of the Google Play system. Hopefully, once my current agreement with Amazon expires the book will be available on the likes of Nexus 6 devices as well as Kindle. When I signed up with Amazon I agreed to only distribute the electronic version of my book with Amazon. This agreement is due to expire shortly so i'll have more freedom as to where the book is distributed from.

I'm also continuing to hunt publishers for the current novel. Only problem has been just making time to research and contact. Hopefully I will have more time over this weekend.

Finally, I'm hoping to update the blogs to make them a bit more interesting to read. At present they just update on the books progress, which is good, but I want to give people a bit more for taking the time to read the blogs. Plan is to start posting up short stories again, like I used to, to give people a bit more to work with.

Some stories will be old ones that I have updated whilst others will be completely new. Should be interesting for all of you either way and I welcome any comments!

Till next time.