Dear Self Published Authors.

Hi, how’s things? I’m sorry to say, but this is going to be a bit of a rant.

You may not know this about me, but despite the fact that my main Hellequin books aren’t self-published anymore, Crimes Against Magic originally started that way. In fact, I’m still self published with my novella.

Infamous-Reign
I know it’s hard work, and getting your name out there is difficult. I know it’s not just about hard work, and long hours, but there’s a lot of luck involved too. On top of actually writing the book, you have to juggle a whole of other stuff lot. But here’s something you should know, and it’s important.

Get.

An.

Editor.
A good one. One you have to pay for, not Bob who works in accounting. Get someone who knows their shit. And if you have a friend who is an editor, then awesome, but otherwise find someone. Pay them. An author needs an editor like everyone needs water: You can manage without for a while, but eventually it’s going to catch up to you and the you’re ballsed. It’s not the best analogy, but it’s been a long day and it’s as good as you’re going to get.

I love seeing people succeed in something they love doing. It’s awesome. But to succeed you need to do it right. So, when you’ve got your awesome cover, and the story is great, and you’re really happy with it. Think to yourself, did I get this professionally edited? If the answer is anything but, “yes, of course I bloody well did” it’s the wrong answer.

Now, I’m not talking to all self-published authors, and hopefully this won’t result in a deluge of pissed off people all thinking I mean them, because the likelihood is, I don’t. There are tons of brilliant self-published works. Right now, I’m reading a self-published work, and it’s fantastic. Because apart from having an awesome cover, and a good story, it’s edited. Professionally edited.

For those of you who this is about, who I am talking to. I really can’t stress how important it is to get your work edited. Yes it costs money, but if you don’t, I can pretty much guarantee you’re not going to be selling a huge amount. And if you were serious enough about writing the book in the first place, be serious enough to act like a professional.

Rant over.

USA Hellequin Sale

This is going to be a brief post as I just want to bring to everyone’s attention the sale going on right now in the USA.

 

All 5 Hellequin books are only $1.99, and with book 6 out this year, this is the perfect time to get stuck into an action-packed, urban fantasy.

Here’s the link:

Amazon.com

Joined all 4

 

What’s Next?

I figured today is probably the time to tell everyone about what I’ll be doing now that my entire working life will centre around writing. That and drinking.

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years, who have purchased and enjoyed my books, who tell their friends and family, who e-mail or message me to say how much the enjoy the books and Nate’s adventures. You’re all awesome and I wouldn’t be able to write full-time without your support. Thank you.

Now, on to what I have coming up. I have several projects I plan to get to in the next 12 months, but as I have a contract for 2 of them, I’ll get to them first.

Hellequin Chronicles Book 6 has a title: Promise of Wrath

And the second book I’ll be writing next year is the first in a new series (it’s set in the Hellequin Universe, but has nothing to do with those books). The book is called: Divided.

I also got a few other things to work on. Basically I’m going to be very busy. Which means I won’t be able to say, “sod it,” and go play Fallout 4. At least not too often.

 

 

Last Day At Work

 

So, this is it. This is my last day of full-time employment. As of 3pm this evening, I am a full-time author. To be fair, it’s about time, trying to write full-time and working full-time isn’t good long-term.

I’ve worked at Siemens, doing Data Analysis, for 11 ½ years. During that time, I’ve met some incredible people who made coming to work worthwhile. I’ve also met some of the worst people I’ve ever had the displeasure to encounter. But they can fuck off, as I’ll never have to see them ever again.

For the last 3 ½ years I’ve been working at Siemens and being also being a published author, and being able to write full-time is something I’ve dreamed of since I was about 12 years old.

After 3pm this evening, I’m done. I’ve brought in enough cake that I think it quantifies as a ‘shit load’, and I’m going to see Star Wars this evening with my wife and daughter. Then I have a weekend off, before I’m going to be getting on with the business of writing.

So, thank you to all of those people who made coming to work worthwhile and entertaining. To everyone who was a pleasure to work with, who was a friend, thank you for the support you gave me when I started writing, and continue to give me now.

I’m not going to miss my job. I’m going to be doing something most people never get to do. I’m going to be doing my dream job. I’m going to be writing stories. Personally I can’t think of anything better to do for a living.

Starting Out

Because I’m a terrible person, I completely forgot about a question I was asked on Twitter over a month ago. So, to Jack, I’m very sorry.

I figured there’s no time like the present. Jack’s question was about starting to write. Now the following tips will work for me, and they might work for you, but don’t take them as gospel. Each person needs to find their own way of writing, and what works for me might not work for you.

With that said, here are my tips for getting started (for this list, I’m going to assume people already have their story idea and characters, because that’s a whole separate list).

 

 

Have An Outline

I know some people don’t like to have a plot worked out before they start writing, they like to wing it. These people are crazy. I’ve done it myself, I’ve sat down with only a barebones idea and started writing, and for me it just means everything takes five times longer to finish.

From about book 3, I realised I need to have an idea of where I’m going. I like to know what I’m going to be doing that particular session of writing. So, I have an outline of the chapter, or chapters, that I’ll be working on.

The outline isn’t overly deep, mostly because I tend to add or remove things as needed, but it gives me something to get started with. I see it sort of like a sandbox Videogame. If someone hands me a game and says, “This is a sandbox game. You can do anything you like.” I’m more likely to just run around and see what I can break, or if I can get that car to jump off that ramp I saw twenty minutes ago. I’m unfocused. But if someone hands me the same game and says, “This is a sandbox game. But here are the story missions.” I’m more likely to at least have a plan what I’m going to do. I might run around blowing stuff up for half hour, but I have an end goal.

I find it similar with writing. My outline for work gives me enough to get on with (usually how the chapter will end, start and anything major that needs to happen), but how I get from the beginning to the end is entirely up to my own imagination.

Lies Ripped Open Front Cover smaller

By the time I got to Lies Ripped Open, I was using detailed outlines for every chapter. They still changed as the story went through (Remy was never in the original outline), but they really helped.

 

Get Comfortable

I know it sounds obvious, but wherever it is you’re going to be writing, make sure you’re comfortable. Make sure you have a drink or some snacks (if needed), because you don’t want to have to get up and leave to get a drink when you’re in the middle of something important.

 

Music

Personally, I can’t listen to music with words while I’m writing. So, I use soundtracks. I have a collection of movie and videogame soundtracks that I put on when starting, something to get me into the mood of what I’m working on. So, for action scenes, I use the Dredd soundtrack, or Mass Effect. Something like that. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes I just want quiet, but I find music can help set the scene.

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Two Steps From Hell are fantastic for when I’m writing.

 Let Yourself Start

At some point, you just have to get on with it. The hardest bit of starting is the start. Yes, I know that isn’t helpful, but it’s true. Get over that first sentence, or paragraph and you’ll have a much easier time of it. And you’re never going to get over it, if you don’t sit down and actually start writing. It might be awful, it might be the shittiest writing ever committed to page, it doesn’t matter, because it’s something. It’s something to get those creative thoughts flowing, and it’s something to build on.

 

STAY AWAY FROM THE INTERNET

Seriously, if you’re going to try writing, going online, “just to check something,” is not going to help you. There are programmes that will remove all connection to anything not the page you’re writing on. If you need them, then go right ahead. I find it helps to have a ten minute break every hour to check FB, Twitter, my email, or whatever. Sometimes, that doesn’t work out, but it all depends how deeply in the moment of writing I am.

 

So, there are some ideas. Hopefully some of them will help. And if they don’t, hopefully some of them will lead you to those that do.

Hellequin Sale

In other news, all 5 Hellequin Chronicles books are on sale in the UK for the month of December.

  • Lies Ripped Open Front Cover smaller

At only £1 each, that’s a lot of reading for not a lot of money.

Here’s the link if you want to go pick yourself up a little something:

Amazon.co.uk

Full-time Writer

So, I handed in my notice today. I’ve worked at my job for 11 1/2 years, and been a published writer for 3 1/2 alongside it. It’s become more and more obvious that doing both is a recipe for a lack of sleep and a general disinterest in my full-time work.

My last day here will be the 18th December, after which, I’ll be a full-time writer. I’ll have news of future books in the next few weeks, I hope, but for now, I just wanted to share that I get to do something I’ve been hoping and dreaming about since I was 14.

It’s both incredibly exciting, and utterly terrifying. But a good kind of terrifying.

Nanowrimo

In a few days the yearly Nanowrimo will start. For those of you who don’t know what that is, basically people try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

As someone whose job it is to write books, Nano doesn’t really have that special place in my year that it does for some. Every month I’m trying to get as much done as possible, and although I don’t set myself a 50k word limit to beat, I try to at least manage enough to be happy with what I’ve done.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like Nano. I think it’s a good way to meet people in your area, and it’s nice to have that comradery with people who are trying to do the same thing.

I’ve done it every year for the last 5 years, and while I’ve only manage 50k twice, I thought some tips might be a good idea. So here they are.

  1. Plan everything first.

Sit down and ensure that you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Getting half way through the month and realising you have it all wrong is a bit crap.

plan

  1. Don’t edit/edit it’s up to you.

It’s the one piece of advice they give out every year. Never Edit. Personally I edit as I go, and that won’t change. But don’t spend all your time fixing that first chapter or paragraph, editing is fine, polishing can wait.

Ah, the classic editing pose.

Ah, the classic editing pose.

  1. Enjoy it.

If you’re not enjoying the writing, then it’s probably not working. The story you’re working on should be something that makes you excited, something that makes you want to sit down and write. No one wants to slog through 50k.

Enjoying it will result in this face too. That's fine.

Enjoying it will result in this face too. That’s fine.

  1. You may not make it.

As hard as this is to accept, you may not make your 50k. And that’s okay. You need to be happy with what you’ve done, and not everyone makes it to the end. Writing a story isn’t a sprint, so if you’re intending to continue on after the end of Nov, then you’ve got a long road ahead.

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And those are my simple tips. This year I’m going to be working on Helleuqin book 6.

Best of luck to everyone taking part.

Lies Ripped Open: A Month Later

So, Lies Ripped Open came out just over a month ago, and I thought it would be nice to see how it’s done.

Lies Ripped Open Front Cover smaller

In short it’s done very well. It entered the Amazon top 100 bestselling books in the US, and was just outside in the UK. In fact after a month in the US, it’s here:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,821 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And in the UK, it’s here:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #917 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

I’ve got to say, I’m more than a little astonished by how well it’s done. And review wise it’s been great too.

Liz Wilkins said:

I’m not going to make any bones about what a huge fan of this series I am, most people know it anyway, but just to be clear I am a HUGE fan of this series.

With Lies Ripped Open the addictive quality of the Hellequin Chronicles goes into overdrive – I read this, fast and furious into the early hours of this morning so Steve McHugh definitely owes me a coffee or six – but you kind of just have to keep going once you start.

The backstory is fleshed out in this instalment, giving some insight into past events and also setting us up for more to come – Nate is on top form here and the magical mythology that the author has created using his own obviously insane imagination and mixing it up with stories we all know has also taken a huge jump in depth and creativity.

This is quite firmly in the adult market – Urban Fantasy for those of us who like our stories uncompromisingly realistic despite the mythological backdrop, Lies Ripped Open was a purely joyful read that I was more than happy to lose sleep over.

The dialogue is witty and full of ironic clarity, I love all the characters and each new novel brings something a little different than the last, the ongoing storyline is really well constructed – for that reason I would recommend reading these in order, although you CAN jump in at any point and have an excellent time.

Brilliant. The only problem being of course is now the wait starts for book 6. Which after THAT ending you will kind of wish you had sat there already. Taps foot.

If you haven’t read these yet and are a fan of all things magic and mayhem then this whole series will definitely be for you.

Jesse said:

This fifth book in the Hellequin series moves the main, overarching plot forward quite a bit. There are a number of significant developments that take place along the way, and several major situations change in a no-turning-back sort of way. As is typical with this series, the book was riveting from start to end and left me wanting more, yet was also very satisfying at multiple points along the way.

So, all in all, it’s been a wonderful month. But I know people want to be told what’s happening next. Well unfortunately I can’t tell you that yet, I should be able to soon enough, but for now that’s going to have to stay under wraps. I can tell you that Book 6 is being written, and that the Flashbacks are set in 1195 in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but that’s it.

Thank you to everyone who grabbed a copy to read or listen to, it’s been wonderful hearing how much people have enjoyed it. Here’s to many more to come.

Until Dawn

I’ve played a lot of games over the years. A LOT. And for a while I was very much into my horror games; Resi Evil, Silent Hill, those kinds of games. Resi 2 and Silent Hill 2 are both some of the greatest games ever made.

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The Last of Us is one of my favourite games of all time, it’s a brilliant mesh of horror, action and stealth that really works, although it helps that it had a great story with fantastic characters. Until Dawn

Well, Until Dawn came out just a few days ago and I’ve finished it. It didn’t take long- about 7 hours- but I’ve already re-started to try and save everyone. It’s a brilliant, unsettling, scary, and funny game. It has some of the best acting in a game I’ve seen in ages and a genuinely good story.

In the era of Telltale games and the re-emergence of the point and click adventure game, Until Dawn does it better than anyone has so far. It’s probably my favourite game this year alongside Witcher 3.

The thing about it that amazed me, was how the characters grow. You start the game and think several of them are self-important dicks, but as the horrific events unfold (and there’s some properly grim stuff in there) these characters change, they grow and become people they need to be to deal with the situation. It’s brilliant writing and something that isn’t done enough in games.

So, if you like horror, or just a good story, Until Dawn will be right up your street. Even my wife, who has almost zero interest in videogames, sat every night I was playing it to see how it ended, to see which characters lived and died through my own actions. And she still wants to watch it again to see if I can save everyone. 

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Oh and Peter Stormare is fantastic in it. If you own a PS4 and like good stories, pick it up. You won’t regret it.

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