A Long-Overdue Blog Post – Stories, Poetry, Art & Life: The Story So Far

It’s been a long while since I posted anything tangible here on WordPress, and I’ve perhaps been neglectful of some of my duties. But while that is indeed true, I have in fact been busy, and, for the most part, the results are a myriad of minor excitements.

Where to begin, then? The first on the list: Stories. Some of you know I published my first short story back in September of 2014, at the time of this post a 2/3rds of a year ago. That first release, entitled When Gods Awaken went modestly well. Between September and early January I went on to release four short stories and a collected works including shorts, poems and sketches. Three of the five releases were also published in paperback format as well as Kindle and epub. Here they are, in order of release:

First 5 Covers

The first three of those releases gained a little attention and received some lovely reviews. The last two, Moses Garrett and Night of the Taking, made negligible sales and (at the time of this blog post) received no reviews.

Undeterred (well, perhaps a little,) I strove on, adding finesse to existing stories, revising old cover images and creating new ones, and continuing to work on what will be my first full-length release – an epic fantasy novel belonging to the series introduced in Night of the Taking.

February 2015 saw the release of no less than four short stories, all of which I made free to download on Kindle and epub. Those included an apocalyptic horror zombie love tragedy, and three stories linked by the same main character known as the Forever Stranger. The downloads for these four free releases came thick and fast, and things started looking hopeful as the muse for my epic fantasy novel also sallied forth unhindered. Then came April and I decided to make my first four short story releases also free, as well as reducing the price of my story/poem/sketch collection to just 99c. I also made my first non-English release in the form of Trostloses ’93, the German version of Bleak ’93.

So, now I had no less than nine free releases and the collection.

When Gods Awaken (Biblical parody)
Bleak ’93 (contemporary family drama)
From Grains To Galaxies (collection)
Moses Garrett (dystopian urban sci-fi)
Night of the Taking (Verragos Tapestry, epic fantasy)
The Lingering Remains (apocalyptic horror)
Falling (The Forever Stranger, visionary)
Island in the Sands (The Forever Stranger, horror, meta)
The Hyperverse Accord (The Forever Stranger, meta, hard sci-fi)
and
Trostloses ’93 (German Bleak ’93)

The story didn’t stop there.

Hot on the back of making my first four releases free, I prepared my first poetry-only release in the form of DeadVerse. DeadVerse contains 26 poems, extensive afternotes, and an essay, and will be released in paperback and Kindle formats, available for pre-order now and published on the 7th of May.

Here are the second batch of short story releases and DeadVerse, in release ordert:

Second 5 Covers

And that covers stories and poetry, bringing me to the third part of this post. Sketches.

2014 was a modestly busy year (for me) with not only writing but also sketching. I sketched no less than four Gigi Edgley portraits (that’s Chiana from Farscape, for the sci-fi nerds like me,) as well as Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager, Yuna from Final Fantasy, and a couple others. Yes that is busy for me! In 2015 I sketched Percy Montana from Starhunter, and a portrait that I intend (provisionally) to incude as an illustration in my current epic fantasy project. The sketch is entitled “Calm After the Storm”.

I’m in the process of adding the sketches to my DeviantArt profile and making them available as prints, canvases, mugs, coasters and mouse mats, as well as other options.

Here’s are the Gigi sketches, #1 #4.

Four Gigi SketchesGigi 1 canvas1

And here’s a selection of my other sketches (when I’m not obsessing about the gorgeous Gigi Edgley.) From left to right they are Seven of Nine, Pursuit, Yuna, Tanya, and Calm After the Storm.

Five SketchesCalm After The Storm canvas1

Which brings me, sadly, to the last item on the menu. Life.

When putting effort into writing stories and poetry and sketches, it’s probably a good idea to stop occasionally and ask yourself if you’re putting effort into other, equally if not more important, areas of your life. The part of me that most people see is my public face, the guy who writes, the guy who sketches. What people don’t see as much of is the more real part of me, the personal part that loves, gets frustrated, drinks whisky, longs for a cigarette, ruminates over the wonders and horrors of existence. The part who forgot the importance of relationships; the part that withdrew further and further into his safety bubble and pushed out the last person he should have distanced himself from – his wife.

There is a down-side to all of these tiny successes (well, successes if you ignore they’ve made me next to no money at all,) and that down-side is that April 2015 will forever be remembered as The Month My Marriage Fell Apart.

Awkward silence.

That’s right. I let my emotional state sink to a level where I could no longer treat the woman I loved the way she deserved to be treated. The result: she finally found her limits, and with them she found the bravery and resolution of character to tell me it was too late. After all was said and done, I was left a stranger in a house that I once called home, in a country I chose as home five years ago almost to the day. But my wife was right in her decision, and as crushing as it is to do so, I’m saying goodbye to this chapter of my life – the best chapter so far in my 37 years in this universe – and preparing to begin the next chapter. The hybrid dedication/poem I wrote as a reaction to this awful life-changing event perhaps explains my feelings the best. It is also the opening poem (and dedication) in my newly-released collection DeadVerse. Here it is:

A Dedication

For Silvi, whose depths of love
were boundless for her boyfriend,
but whose patience in enduring
her husband – ever a bother,
oft a bane – finally reached its limit.
You inspired me to view the world
with brighter colours than these
eyes alone could ever see;
your presence – letting me in
to your life – led me to my goals,
but at what terrible, terrible cost.
You shone a light in an otherwise
grim and shadowed world;
you gave me of your strength,
and I sapped it like a vampire.
You were my sight in the darkness,
my guide through the crowd,
and I wrapped myself in your safety.
You were my voice, my understanding
in a place so full of strangers.
You were my wife, my friend,
my companion, my life.
You gave me more and more,
while I gave less and less;
I hope your freedom from such
burdens sets you on a journey
to true and lasting happiness.
I loved you with all my heart,
but love, I know, was not enough;
you deserve to be adored; somehow
I forgot that, and remembered too late.
For you a candle will always burn,
in whatever passes for my soul.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I have spent the last eight months; becoming a self-published fiction writer and poet, taking my hobby of sketching to the next level, and destroying my marriage and life. I hope there’s a modicum of truth in that we live and learn, for I very much want to have learned something positive that I can take with me to wherever my future is.

Thank you.

And consider…

When my bones join the dust
of this world’s countless billions,
when my name is forgotten,
my story stashed deep,
when the memory of me
dies with those I encountered,
and the sun swells to nova,
will the universe weep?

New novel from fellow fantasy author Nancy Chase

I only ever plug another writer’s work if I think both it and they deserve the plug. This is one of those times. Nancy’s debut novel, The Seventh Magpie, is more than just a fairy tale; it’s a personal journey that spans decades, culminating in a literary triumph and, along with Katrina Sesum’s illustrations, an absolute work of art. Do yourselves a favour and check it out. This is a gem worthy of a pedastal, and it needs your help to be raised out of the quagmire.

And here’s how certain I am that, if you’re a fan of fantasy stories, you’ll enjoy The Seventh Magpie: if you purchase Nancy’s novel, and genuinely don’t feel you got your money’s worth, then I will GIVE you a copy of my book, From Grains To Galaxies. Can’t say fairer than that, hey?

How can I be so certain that The Seventh Magpie is any good? Because I’ve read enough snippets and seen enough teasers of the interior to recognise quality when I see it. I’m a good writer, and quality gravitates to quality. It’s an unwritten law of universal nature. You’ll see.

The Seventh Magpie, by Nancy Chase at Amazon

Nancy’s personal website and blog

And while I’ve got your attention, why don’t you come and join Nancy’s Facebook launch event where there are lots of guest authors, including myself and Nancy’s illustrator, Katrina, with lots of giveaway competitions every day until Saturday! Just click on the cover image and be whisked away to the event! And when you get there, do by all means vote for my name in the ‘who invited you?’ poll. ;)

TSM

 

Ebook GIVEAWAY! From Grains To Galaxies FREE!

Giveeaway Cover

For ONE day only – Saturday, January 31st – my 150-page collection of short stories and poetry (plus a few sketches) will be FREE to download from all Amazon stores across the world here: http://mybook.to/FGTG
Save yourself either $3.99, €3.45 or £2.63 by taking advantage of this ONE DAY GIVEAWAY!
Just visit your regional Amazon site via this link – http://mybook.to/FGTG – and you’ll be one click away from your very own free copy of From Grains To Galaxies.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, science fiction, horror, poetry, contemporary fiction and/or speculative fiction, then you’re guaranteed to find something in this collection to your liking.
Invite your friends. Invite your family. Invite your colleagues. Hell, invite your pet hamster if you want to.

FGTG V4 Fr 800px

Indie Authors: Self-Promotion – Worthwhile or Pointless?

Self-promotion for an indie author is as effective as diving headfirst into quicksand. If you can’t find or attract the right kind of audience and potential reader-base, and if you can’t solidify those first few fans who are not only willing but happy to share word of their newly-discovered Brilliant Author, then all you’re doing with your self-promo is flogging a world of dead horses (which is why my blog is so named.)

On December 12th I released my 150-page collection of short stories and poems (and sketches), covering the genres of fantasy, sf, contemporary, spec and horror. To date it’s sold one paperback copy and one Kindle copy, and received two reviews.

FGTG V4 Full Lg Bleed

On December 14th I released the short story / poem combo of Moses Garrett / Angerland – dystopian urban SF – for the lowest possible price of 99c and equivalents. To date it’s sold no copies and received no reviews.

MGA V2 Fr Sm

A week ago I released my entry into the Verragos Tapestry epic fantasy series. Night of the Taking includes the eponymous short story, an exclusive full first chapter of my current work-in-progress, and more exclusive content. It immediately sold one copy (thanks, Dave), then sank along with my other releases.

NotT V3 full cover

Now, I can almost hear the writers with novel-length releases saying how short stories are a hard sale. I hear it all the time, and yet about 10% of the free copies I’ve given out have received fantastic feedback. Unfortunately, while such feedback is great to hear and humbling to receive, it stops as soon as it’s given because indie-published works don’t sell themselves.

I’ve done interviews, I’ve appeared as a guest author on a couple of blogs, I’ve promoted myself a lot, but (for those of you who are sick of seeing my promo posts) it’s been a lot less than the majority of indie authors.

The main crowd I need to attract is the Fantasy/SF crowd. You’d think that would be an easy one to grab the attention of. Unfortunately, the opposite couldn’t be more true. I’ve witnessed the romance/erotica crowd dutifullly sticking together and promoting one another; it must be great to gather a flock of similar authors around you like a comfy blanket, knowing each time you release something it’s going to get exposure and sales.

Five Covers

I think perhaps that while I’ve always been good with people, I’ve also always been something of a loner. If I was a troubled young girl, you might call me a wallflower. If I sported a biker’s jacket and an attitude, you might call me a rebel. Truth is I’m just an introvert. So how does an introverted indie author go about gathering a fan base and a gaggle of like-minded authors around himself? How does one grab exposure? How does one attract the attention of the right people? Clearly it’s not about promo, promo, promo till you’re blue in the teeth, because that’s a tried and tested method that just doesn’t cut it.

Clearly it’s all about who you know. And if you don’t know people, you need to get acquainted with them. But where are they? Don’t get me wrong – I’ve read some fantasy, sci fi and horror stories, from shorts to full novels, that absolutely stank; I don’t want to associate myself with writers who can barely string a sentence together. I don’t want to surround myself with authors who have learned none of the golden guidelines to writing a story that people are going to feel immersed in. I want to find the quality crowd, the people who have learned how to write well, because if I associate myself only with those whose prose is as dull as a white-washed wall, it’s going to be more of a detriment than an asset.

So, while the quest continues in the background, in the meantime my focus will be away from pointless self-promotion and solely on my work-in-progress. My next release will be at least novella-length, but equally likely it’ll become long enough to be classed as a novel. Then we’ll see who’s interested.

Pub Logo ASK (star)