Monthly Archives: June 2012
On April 29th, I wrote a piece titled ‘Today I am a Published Author‘, it was to signify the day that my first ever book was published.
That was two months ago, and since that day, it’s been a roller-coster ride of highs and lows. If there’s one thing I can say about being an Indie author, it’s never dull. It’s depressing, heart-breaking and incredible, but never dull.
So, two months after that book went live, I got my first ever payment. My first one. Okay, it was for £22 (about $35), but I don’t care, it was for 1 day’s worth of book sales in the UK and I got paid. So today I move from being an author, to being a professional author. I now get paid for something I love doing (I promise not to go around calling myself a professional author, that’s just being a bit of a tit).
That was not the only thing that happened this week that I felt a need to share with you all. If you’re a UK writer and you’re an Indie, you have to get a Tax number from the IRS otherwise Amazon send the lovely fellows over there 30% of your earnings. This is something I learnt a few days ago and immediately set about trying to get hold of the IRS.
As it turns out it was quite easy. There’s a number to call on the Amazon FAQ’s about tax. You call it, ask for an EIN (if your a company) and there you go. Unfortunately it takes about an hour to get through to them, and about 5 minutes to complete the call. And the number is in the US. Which means your phone bill is going to take a kicking. So, here’s my advice. Get Skype. It cost me about 85p to use it to call them. I can’t believe how much easier it was.
So, yes, this week was a bit of a learning experience. But the fact that I can now state that I get paid to write, is one of those things I’d always dreamt of. Yeah, I’m not making Stephen King money. But right now, right here, all that matters is that people have bought my book and enjoyed it enough to keep it. I won’t go into sales figures (I want a few months of data before I do), but this is where Crimes Against Magic is currently sitting (as of 20:30 on 27/June/12).
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,981 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #29 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Magic & Wizards
- #85 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary
- #91 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary
And you know what, that looks damn good to me. And, touch wood, long may it continue.
Welcome back to the 4th Wednesday Wippet, where I post a snippet of my WiP, Born of Hatred, the sequel to Crimes Against Magic. As per usual they may be some spelling or grammar issues.
This week as it’s the 27th and as much as I’d like to post something from chapter 27, it’s basically one massive spoiler, so that’s not really possible. Instead, you get something from chapter 7.
The clearing ended fifty feet in front of where we stood, replaced with a sheer drop that went down for a few hundred feet into the New Forest below. From our vantage point, we could see for miles and all of it green and peaceful. Very few people knew of the spot, so thankfully there was no fence protecting idiots from falling down the slope, spoiling what was a spectacular view.
“It’s so quiet,” she said as she walked toward the edge, stopping a few feet back and peering down the slope. “Bloody hell.”
“Yeah, I don’t advise jumping down there,” I said as I joined her. “You could probably survive as it’s not a sheer drop, but you’d know about it once you hit the bottom.”
“How do you know about this place?”
“I used to come here, a long time ago. When the only way to get up here was to climb that slope, or walk the ten miles to get around it.”
“You climbed that?”
I nodded. “A few times, it was good exercise.” I made my way back to the truck. “I picked here as we’re unlikely to be disturbed, you can ask whatever you want. I won’t dodge anything, I promise. No subject off limits. You got into a fight today, how are you feeling about it?”
Sara continued to stare down into the forest below, her back facing me. She rubbed her neck and turned. “I wanted to hurt him,” she said. “He threatened to… well, you know. When I hit him, I just lost it.”
“You handled yourself well. I’m proud of you for doing that, you should be too. Next time, maintain composure, loosing your temper will get you in trouble one day. Trust me on this.”
“You were so calm. You could have killed them all, couldn’t you?”
I nodded. “A day not too long ago, I would have too. But, that’s not me anymore, I try not to kill those too stupid to know better.”
“Why doesn’t that scare me?”
“Because I’m awesome,” I said with a laugh, which Sara quickly joined.
As you may know, last week I had a competition to win a signed paperback copy of Crimes Against Magic.
Before we get to the winner, I’d just like to thank everyone who took part. There were a lot of entries, so either people really wanted a copy of my book or they just really wanted something for free. Either way thank you for taking the time to follow, re-tweet and take an interest.
The names of everyone who took part were put into a bag for the independent judge to pick the lucky winner.
And the winner is: Tammy Stevens
Tammy you now have 7 days to send me your address and any message you’d like me to sign. I hope you enjoy your prize.
For everyone who didn’t win, I’m sure my daughter can be bribed for future competitions. She likes Super Heroes (Batman and Spider-man especially), Studio Ghibli films and chocolate. Any of those things pretty much guaranteed you a win.
While I have your attention, I can recommend you to go read my most recent interview with Dianne Waye, here.
Welcome back to the 3rd Wednesday Wippet, where I post a snippet of my WiP, Born of Hatred, the sequel to Crimes Against Magic.
This week as it’s the 20th, you get something from chapter 20, which happens to be a flashback chapter.
And now the here’s part of chapter 20. As before, these wippets are not from a finished draft, so may contain spelling/or grammar issues (although I’ve tried to remove any).
“What needs to be done,” I said absentmindedly. “Goddamn it. Get out of the tub.”
“What?” she asked, but I was in no mood to ask again. I grabbed her arm and removed her from the tub with one pull, dropping her onto the floor with a splat as her wet flesh hit the wooden floorboards.
“Get your ass in that chair,” I snapped.
She dragged herself into the wooden rocking chair, her arm was red where I’d grabbed it. As far as I was concerned, she was lucky to still have both arms.
I removed the ropes from the window, usually used to tie the curtains back, and tied Stephanie’s arms behind the chair, making sure that she couldn’t get up. I took second rope and attached one end to the first, using the other end to tie it to the handles on the chest of drawers. If she started yanking at the rope, she’d get out, but it would take a while.
“You want me still so you can kill me,” she said and spat at me, missing by a few feet.
I stood in front of her and rolled up the sleeves on my shirt, letting her watch the orange glyphs that lit up on my arms. “If I wanted to kill you.” A small sphere of flame appeared in the palm of my hand, Stephanie’s eyes opened as wide as possible. “You’d already be dead.”
The flame vanished and I put on my coat. “You’re going to give your friends in this town a message. They have forty-eight hours to leave. To run as far away as they can. Because in two days I’m going to come back, burn this entire fucking town to the ground and piss on the ashes.”
As some of you know, I’ve been getting a paperback copy of Crimes Against Magic ready.
I wanted it ready for the end of May, but circumstances outside of my control meant that wasn’t possible. So now I’m ready to announce the date that the paperback of my book will be ready to purchase.
Today. Now. This second.
In fact you can find it here:
It’s also available in France/Spain/Germany and Italy, as are the kindle versions for anyone in those countries (although, everything is in English.). I’ll put links for these here.
To celebrate this, quite frankly, excellent event, we’re going to have a competition where one of you, dear readers can win a signed copy of Crimes Against Magic.
So, how do I win? I hear you ask.
Well, it’s very simple. There are four things you can do to get an entry:
1. Like my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/Hiddenrealmspublishing
2. Follow my blog (click on the ‘follow’ button on the top right of this page).
3. Tweet about this competition or RT my tweets (if you tweet, you’re going to have to include me so I can keep track – there’s a widget at the bottom of the page with a link to my Twitter account).
4. Share my posts on Facebook (Look for contest posts on my Facebook page).
Every time you do one of the above, your name goes into a hat. Each additional action, means an extra entry. So in theory, if you do all the above and then share and re-tweet every day, you’ll get loads of entries.
In one week’s time, on the 21st June, my daughter will draw one name out of the hat, and I’ll announce the winner on my blog. They then have one week to contact me with their address.
If you already follow me or like my author page and don’t want to take part (maybe you don’t like free stuff) then let me know and I’ll make sure to remove your name from the hat.
And that’s it for this week. Thanks to everyone who supported me and to everyone who has already purchased a copy of the book.
So, it’s the 2nd Wednesday Wippet, where I post something from my WiP, Born of Hatred. The only rule is, it has to be something that’s relevant to the date. So, as today is the 13th, I’ll post something from the 13th chapter.
Like last week, this hasn’t been edited, so there might be the occasional spelling/grammar issue, as I don’t want to spend tons of time going through it, as it defeats the point.
I hope you enjoy it:
“Anything else, Doc?” I asked.
He removed a thermometer from inside the wound. “It’s hard to give an exact time of death, but I would say about four to five hours ago. Whatever is doing this, it’s like nothing I’ve seen in my hundred and ninety years of life.”
I thanked him and, with a head full of information, went off to find Tommy and Sara. Instead I found one of the agents who had been the contact for the killer. “Agent Reid,” I said and offered my hand, which he took.
“Are you helping with the investigation?” He asked.
“Just a fresh set of eyes, I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You pissed off some people earlier. That would be akin to jumping up and down on people’s toes.”
“I get that a lot,” I assured him. “Do you mind if I ask you a few things?”
“The killer, Olivia says he calls you.”
“He calls Greaves,” he corrected. “Usually a few hours after he’s killed them. Greaves got the call just over an hour ago. We came here first and then contacted Director Green.”
“Greaves is a werewolf, yes?”
“Yes, I am,” I rough voice snapped from behind me. “Is there a problem with that?”
I turned toward the surly man with a smile on my face. “No problems. I just wanted to know if you caught any scent.”
“And I should tell you why?” He jabbed a finger at my chest. I glanced down at the digit and wondered if I should break it.
And that’s it for another Wippet. It’s much harder work than I’d thought, trying to find bits that don’t spoil anything, while still giving a taste of what’s in store.
Next week is the 20th, so you’ll be getting a glimpse of what the flashbacks in the book are about.
This week I read an excellent post by Krista Walsh about reading Betas. In fact it was so good, that I’m going to steal it as a topic so that I can talk about it. Thanks for that, Krista.
For those of you who aren’t writers and don’t know what a Beta is, it’s when people read a pre-published copy of your story so that they can find any problems. It’s basically the writer’s version of bug testing.
For a variety of reasons, Beta reading is one of the most important aspects of being a writer. It’s really the first time people will judge if the story works. Are the characters well written? Is the pacing well done? Are there any serious errors? Is the formatting okay? And most importantly, is it any good?
Good Beta readers are like gold-dust. Not only do they take time out of their lives so they can read your work, but they also give excellent advice and are there when you need to bounce ideas off someone.
I have never read about any writer, no matter how successful, that doesn’t use Beta readers. So if you’re a writer and you think your book is finished, but you don’t have any Beta readers. Get some. Soon.
There is another side to having people read your work. And that’s you reading others. Being a Beta reader, or giving critiques, will improve your writing in ways you can’t do any other way. You will spot flaws and errors in other people’s work that you block out when reading your own. It will improve your writing in ways you can’t understand until you start doing it. But there are rules to giving a good Beta.
1. Be Polite – You might not like what you read. And you should be honest about the problems you’ve found, but be pleasant about it. Tearing the story apart will do nothing for you in the long run, except upset someone and cause you to look like a dick.
2. Don’t re-write it – You can give ideas, you can suggest what you might do. But don’t re-write huge chunks of their book. It is, after all, their book. And their writing style. And if you decide to write entire chapters in your style, your sort of missing the point.
3. Give a critique – Saying you loved it is great. Only saying you loved it, is pointless. You need to explain what you did and didn’t like. And there’s always things you won’t like. Explain what they are, don’t just leave your critique as short sentences as it won’t help anyone.
4. Ask when they want it back – It seems obvious, but you know, people forget to do it.
5. Get it back to them on time – Again, seems obvious, and it’s something I’m guilty of doing, but it’s also something I’m trying to make sure I stop.
And last, but not least.
6. Enjoy yourself. You’re reading the work of someone before it anyone else sees it. That is probably one of the most incredible things about being a Beta reader. You should probably enjoy that. And if you don’t, then there’s no hope for you.
There are probably other rules, but they’re the 6 I try to stick to.
So, here’s to the Beta readers. Long may they make us better writers.
A few weeks ago I did the Lucky Seven Meme, which was 7 lines from the 77th page from my wip. Well, a short time after that Krista Walsh started doing Wednesday Wippet. It’s basically similar to the Lucky Seven, but instead of limiting you to one page, you take a few paragraphs from a page or chapter that relates to the date.
I thought it would be good fun to do for a few weeks, and let people have a small taste of Born of Hatred. Now be warned, this isn’t a completed draft, so there might be a few things that change.
So, as it’s the 6th June, I could select the 6th page, 6th chapter, 66th page… that sort of thing. I selected the sixth page of the story:
I turned the small radio and microphone over in my hands. “I’m not going on a mob bust.”
“It’s that or you wear one of those ridiculous Bluetooth headsets, which are about as secure as yelling really loud. I need to stay in contact with you, just in case he comes home early.”
I placed the radio in my pocket, clipped the microphone to my top and pressed the ear piece home. “I assume you’ve done some recon work to know where he might be at ten in the morning.”
“Of course I’ve had some recon done. Neil leaves his building a little after 9am, and comes back at 3pm. He then leaves again at 6pm and comes back sometime in the morning between one and three. Twice he’s arrived back with a young woman, who then leaves a few hours before Neil surfaces. According to the notes, they’re of… questionable virtue.”
“They’re hookers is what you’re getting at, yes?” Sara asked, which made me laugh.
“I’m surrounded by uncouth ruffians.”
“And apparently you live in the nineteenth century,” I said. “I’m going to go break into someone house before you call me a ragamuffin or something equally hurtful.”
Even Tommy had to laugh, but it was cut short by a serious expression. “Nate, be careful. This guy is a nutcase. If he sees you in there, he’ll probably attack you.”
I forced a grin. “Isn’t that why you brought me along in the first place?”
And that’s it, short and sweet I know, but I hope you liked it.
Monday’s, as a rule, suck. Today sucks even worse, because it’s a bank holiday and I have to work. But there’s a little glimmer of happiness in what is otherwise a gloomy day. And that, my friends, is an interview with the wonderfully talented, Tom Harris.
But before we get to that, here’s the first chapter of his YA Novel – The Amber Room, introducing the main character, North.
He sat on the top deck at the front, away from the other school kids at the back who had got on the bus with him. He shielded his eyes, feeling the heat on his face through the glass as the autumn sun peeked out between the terraced houses.
The open staircase behind his seat was his only exit. A blur of sunlight got trapped in his vision as he glanced down the length of the bus to see if he could make a clean getaway when the time came. He could feel the thrill rising inside him like a leviathan.
Four seats back, across from him, sat alone on the double seat was a guy wearing huge headphones, eyes closed, head bobbing. Three seats from the front were a young couple holding hands and giggling; eyes like magnets locked on each other. Second seat from the front was a problem. The middle-aged woman stared at him when he got on and she stared again now. All she had to do was lean across her timid looking husband and…Gotcha! On the seat across from him was an old lady sucking on a mint she had taken out of a packet that sat loosely in the palm of her saggy skinned hand.
North didn’t like mints, but he was going to steal them anyway.
He caught his reflection in the window. The sight of his jean jacket over his drab black and grey school uniform took him back to the Easter holidays when his parents had bought it for him just before his fourteenth birthday. It was the last thing they would ever buy him, probably…
A bead of sweat seeped down his back sticking part of his school shirt against his skin. He pulled his tie off, rolled it up and unrolled it three times, and put it in his jacket pocket. Through the reflection in the front window, the bag of mints sparkled like pure white diamonds.
Goosebumps gathered on his skin. His legs quivered as if he was tapping along to heavy metal. He rolled his neck, stretching, warming up for the main event. A pile of scrunched up bus tickets had collected on the floor below his seat and he spread them out with the tips of his toes forming the letter M for Mint. He let out a small snort of laughter. ‘Second seat from the front woman’ was like one of those pictures that followed you around the room. He avoided her stare through the reflection of the front window and ran his hand across his cropped black hair as the bus pulled to a halt.
The bus trembled at the stop and a rush of heat smothered his body. He picked at the tornPerrowSchoolcrest on the blue cloth school bag that hung around his neck. It was too much of a hassle to take off his jean jacket so he blew cold air down his top. He rocked a little in his seat, full of nervous energy, legs still wobbling like jelly.
The thrill was back.
I told you he was talented. And that’s a hell of a good cover. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce him to you.
Hi, Tom. So, why don’t you tell us all a bit about yourself?
I write Young Adult fiction and everything else is inconsequential! Although, as you were kind enough to ask, Steve, I do like Toffee Crumbles – even though I have no idea if they are an ice lol or an ice cream? Maybe that’s what makes them so appealing? I love Hitchcock’s Vertigo – I’m a big Hitchcock fan. I actually found out the other day that he almost directed the first Bond film which was meant to be Thunderball, but he turned it down and they went with Dr No – imagine what the Bond franchise would have been like under Hitchock’s direction? Wow! I love cricket, football and birds – all three have fascinated me since I was a child. I think watching TV shows and movies are important for writers as well as reading great books. I love reading but stuff like Buffy, Supernatural, Sherlock and The Fades fuel my creativity whilst acting as a release valve from ongoing projects. 24 is not my genre, but I do miss Jack Bauer and attend withdrawal therapy every month! My friends know I love the show and call me CTU, at least it sounds like that to me…
Can you tell us a bit more about your book, The Amber Room? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?
The idea was spawned by reading Charles Perrault’s fairy tales. I then thought about a fresh take with new characters travelling inside these amazing worlds; the brilliant Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crime Novels, inspired me to wander down this path. Then the characters got hold of me and became so real that I had to write it. North being a kleptomaniac was the key as it gave him an Achilles Heel that, although unappreciated in our world, is seen as a gift by the mysterious Dr Tan and enables North to become a treasure thief. Once Rosie Boots arrived as North’s guide through Perrault’s fairy tale worlds, I knew I just had to write it!
It took about six months for the first draft but a year in total, including time off to let the draft fester and then return to it with a fresh pair of eyes – which didn’t come cheap on the black market I can tell you! It was just like Minority Report! By the way, Philip K. Dick – amazing! I really did edit the heck out of this and am so grateful for my great critique group – The Registry Writers. Everyone who read it and gave advice played their part in forming the finished version of The Amber Room. Cheers guys!
Who’s your favourite character in the book?
I love Doctor Tan, North and Rosie and it would just annoy them if I picked one as my favourite – lots of squabbling and hiding when I need to discuss the sequel with them. My favourite sections to write were Doctor Tan’s scenes with North inside the Amber Room as I could just allow my imagination to wander into the mind of an eccentric supernatural treasure hunter and his quirky, twisted view on the world. I had some real fun with this and it got a little dark in places too – perfect! I also loved writing the scenes with North and Rosie and their banter as they deal with their attraction to each other as they pop in and out of dangerous fairy tale worlds searching for amber treasure. A lot of these scenes were inspired by a nameless muse and returned fond memories to my flame-grilled heart…sigh…Anyway [necks a shot of Oban Single Malt Whiskey] Let’s move on, quickly…
What made you decide to self-publish?
I just really believed in the story and wanted people to read it. I was very curious about the process of self publishing and wanted to see what would happen. The general idea was to promote myself from within, to catch the attention of publishers and agents through the quality of my work.
This is not a try it and give up if it doesn’t work thing for me. What I’ve produced is as good as I could do at that moment, but I aim to improve as a writer and to keep learning. This is a showcase for my writing which I’m very proud of and since me and the book have been out there, I’ve began to understand the fuller role of the modern author and what is expected. And let’s face it, If any of us can wake up in the morning and do what we love doing then surely that is the greatest gift of all! I hope this is a stepping stone to be able to one day achieve that goal. That’s why I self published!
*If anyone is interested in reading more about why and the processes of self publishing, I did a piece for Hackwriters last week on the very subject, just follow the link… http://www.hackwriters.com/TheAmberRoom.htm
Do you have a favourite book or author? What are they?
I read loads of Young Adult fiction and dip into other genres only when something hits me hard. Like a Hardback to the face or being threatened by a fellow debut author with a machete in a dark alley – I meant to have a word with you about that Steve! You really do take your research for your fight scenes to the limit don’t you!
I love Jasper Fforde’s stuff – so inventive and a work of genius in my opinion. Pullman, Rowling, Suzanne Collins first Hunger Games novel and Moira Young’s Blood Red Road are all outstanding! Neil Gaiman who I recently discovered – shocking that it’s taken me so long frankly – is absolutely amazing! Marcus Sedgwick is also brilliant!
What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
This is my fun! Everything outside of writing is down-time, spent sprawled across the sofa or clambering up the stairs to bed. There have been reports of me having fun outside of writing – as rare as yeti sightings – which mostly involve friends and booze. I don’t class cricket and football as being fun, they are a plague which I take far too seriously – it’s in the blood and there’s nothing I can do about it! I’m like a moth to the flame when it comes to these sports.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I have drafted the sequel to The Amber Room – The Amber Antidote, which I’m planning on releasing next year. But next up is a contemporary YA adventure thriller called Jackie Jones.
Fourteen year old Jackie accepts a mysterious invitation to a country estate to compete for a huge cash prize which could put an end to his family’s money worries for good. What starts out as being the opportunity of a lifetime, turns into a nightmare when Jackie arrives at Heath Hall and finds that the other contestants not only share his desire to win the money, but also his name!
I also have Hywel which is back to supernatural fantasy which I love. That will come out after The Amber Antidote in 2013.
Fifteen year old Hywel is troubled. He stalks girls, his parents think he’s overweight and now he’s been sent to a fitness boot camp in the English countryside. After following pretty Lara into the woods, Hywel watches beneath a full moon as she is attacked by a Nesthead Demon. Lara is saved but taken by a white wolf, but when Hywel returns to the camp no-one will believe his story until the camp comes under attack.
You can be any comic book superhero – Who would you be?
Batman! I love Batman! Not in a weird way, but I remember seeing what may have been a copy of an old Batman comic at a church fete and being totally hooked. I was desperate to get hold of the first issue to know how he became Batman! This wasn’t so easy back then and it took me ages to find out how it all started with the bat flying through the window and all that. God it’s so dark and brooding and painful and bloody amazing! God! I would love to be Batman!
When I was a kid I used to laugh my head off at the old TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward playing the caped crusaders and I still love that now! KABLAM!
As much as I enjoyed Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s take, and it was great how they tried to stay true to the origins of the comic, the only credible part of the whole Batman franchise left standing after that was the brilliant animated series, where Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame, voiced The Joker! Every film sequel was rushed and the character was overlooked for special effects and guest stars, and also the lead actor kept changing…until Nolan and Bale got hold of it and…Wow! This is the dark, brooding, mystery of a vengeful man that I fell in love with. The two films are incredible, great storylines, great writing and superbly acted and very character driven, which is the key to pulling at emotional heart-strings after all.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Go for it, you bumbling idiot! Being shy and polite never won fair maiden! You’ll never know if she likes you, if you don’t ask! Fight for her and treat her like a princess and let her know you love her. I’m single because of this stuff, anyone else out there treading gently, go out and declare your love – do it now! Don’t wait for it to happen, it never will! But if she or he rejects you I am unavailable for counselling as I generally give terrible advice.
Also, to slap the South Birmingham Football Manager round the chops with a pair of white gentleman’s gloves for not picking me when I was the best player on the pitch at the trial – well that’s how I remember it anyway! This idiot of a manager picked loads of giant kids and decided to play long ball tactics. I was a smaller kid, a bit like a young Messi – in size only obviously – but I was a ball player – he didn’t like that! WTF? Sorry Steve, you don’t have to post this boring football stuff, I only left it in because it was just great therapy to say that after all these years – cheers!
What skills do you possess that would help you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Natural camouflage. My face falls to pieces now and again and I have a strong limp, my shoulder is broken in four places, my head is at an angle and rests against my shoulders as though I’m sleepy and I drag my arms and my left foot just like Daniel-Day-Lewis. I like to eat rare steak and let that dribble from my mouth and I sleep in a graveyard! This could also explain why I’m single – hmm, never thought of that!
You can find and download The Amber Room on Amazon & Smashwords by following the links:
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/148214
And if you feel like learning more about Tom, and why wouldn’t you, you can go to his blog: