More Books Are Good For Your Brain

In the previous post I promoted my own books a bit. And since I mentioned it, here they are again: https://petefordwriter.com/books

And I promised in that post that I’d promote a handful of other authors. No big names here; you guys don’t need my help to get your books out there. The intention here is to try to give a leg up to a few people with some excellent books that you might not know about.

So let’s start off with Craig Hallam, a fellow Brit. I read Greaveburn a while back and it’s one of those books I can’t help but pick up and read again every so often. (I think I’ve read it four times now.) He also has the Alan Shaw stories, and more. Check his work out here: https://craighallam.wordpress.com/books/

Now I must mention the great authors at my own publisher. While I don’t claim to have read everyone I have read Aly Grauer, Ben Ireland, Russell Smith, and several others. Don’t miss out on some outstanding stories: http://www.xchylerpublishing.com/our-books/

That’s all I have time for today; I’m eager to get on with timelining my own next book. So until next time . . .

Books Are Good For Your Brain

Something I’ve been told I don’t do often enough (tooting your own horn feels wrong, somehow): promoting my books. You can find all the links here:

https://petefordwriter.com/books

That’s it for now (the day-job is keeping me too busy to do more at the moment). In a future post (soon . . . very soon) the plan is to promote some books by other lesser-known authors. Watch this space.

Contingency Plan

I have this book written; it’s a full-length SF/Steampunk story, around 90,000 words long. At the moment it has a working title of Smoke & Mirrors, but I can’t really use that (Neil Gaiman has a short story collection out with that name). I do have a better title but I’m keeping it under my hat for now. I might not be able to use that one, either—it turns out that it’s very similar to the name of another short story collection, this one from the 1970s. No matter; if I find a publisher they can make that call.

But that’s a big If. Right now I have the typescript out with some agents, and the indications are that all I’m going to see is rejection letters. It’s par for the course, really; only a small fraction of books get picked up by agents because they have to be picky about what they take on. After all, they have to bear costs until the book hits shelves and starts making cash, and even then their slice isn’t going to pay the rent if the book doesn’t sell. Fifteen percent of zero doesn’t go very far.

My problem here is that it could easily be December or even later before all the agents get back to me (and I don’t expect them all to reply, either—some agents only seem to reply to the few percent of queries that they want to pursue, leaving the rest to hang; one that I’ve queried this time round has a response rate of 4.4%, so I really don’t expect to hear a peep from that direction).

So here’s the quandary: If all the responses are going to be rejections, then I’m wondering: why should I wait for the bad news before moving? Why not just self-pub the book anyway? Then, in the event that one of the agents does actually show an interest, I can always un-publish.

Of course, there’s a danger that an agent might be interested, at which point I then have to tell them that I already self-pubbed—but hey, don’t worry, I can un-publish in thirty seconds with a couple of mouse clicks. But the fact that the book’s already out there and maybe sold a few copies might be enough for the agent to get cold feet. I don’t know what agents do in that situation, to be honest. I don’t know any agents to ask.

What to do, what to do . . .

So here’s the contingency plan: I’m going to start merging the chapter files into a single master document, ready for self-publishing. I’m also going to see about how much it’d cost to have a professional editor look at it, and get some idea of how much a cover artist might charge for an eye-catching cover. That’ll take a couple of weeks, at least, during which time it’s always possible I’ll get a good word from an agent. If not, then I can make the decision on whether to go forward the self-pub way, or continue to wait.

The plan is planned. Tomorrow, I’ll begin merging files, and researching editors and artists. I’ll post progress here. Watch this space.

Finish Your Book now in print

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AFTER a certain amount of messing about, Finish Your Book is now available on paper here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1522043837 — cheaper than a $6 cheeseburger, and better for you, too. (Disclaimer: please don’t eat the book; I suspect the inks and stuff are not exactly FDA approved.)

And of course the non-dead-tree version is available from all good eBook vendors. See https://petefordwriter.com/books/finish-your-book for details.

Dear Diary . . .

MY regular readers (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Epping) might have noticed that every now and then I post something here that’s more like a rambling journal entry than an article about something specific.

This is one of those. Day job and household chores took over things for the last couple of days; I did find time to get a few things done, though, and now I feel like rambling a bit. Let the rambling begin . . .

On books and writing:

As I mentioned in the last post, I uploaded a correctly-formatted version of Finish Your Book, and now that should be what gets downloaded by readers. I tested it and it looks the way I intended the first time round.

I also re-published Pavonis, which was the first full-length story I ever published. It was originally self-published in 2012, but I took it down after Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia was published professionally, the reason being that after going through the whole pro publishing process with G&B, I realised that my self-editing left a lot to be desired and I was no longer happy to have a flawed work out there. So I had sort-of planned to rework much of Pavonis with the help of a professional editor (and cover artist—the cover pretty much stinks), and come up with a better title (because Pavonis doesn’t tell you anything about what the book’s about). But after much consideration, I decided I’d rather focus on new works than try to fix old ones. And anyway, quite a few people liked the book despite its shortcomings. In the end I decided to just put it back out there. I might at some point upload a new version that fixes the known spelling errors and some formatting problems (a few passages display underlines and italics that weren’t in my source text), and I’m considering paying an artist to come up with better cover art. Maybe.

Meanwhile on the writing front, I’m building up the story line for the currently-untitled SF book I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of months. I’ll probably be getting back on that this afternoon.

Also, I did some tweaking of the web site to rearrange a few things and update a couple of pages. I think it’s looking pretty good.

On TV:

We’re saving Game of Thrones on DVR, with the intention of binge-watching when we have four or five episodes recorded. Reason: last year we watched the first episode of season six the night it showed—and at the end we were like a couple of addicts, craving more and cursing HBO for forcing us to wait a whole week for our next fix. So, not this time.

Meanwhile I’ve been re-watching season two of Dark Matter, and when I reach the end of that I’m planning on watching the available episodes of season three on on-demand.

On games:

I was given a new video card—a GTX950 to replace my older GTX560. I installed it yesterday afternoon, but wasn’t able to do anything with until the evening. I played some Serious Sam – The First Encounter and it did seem to be smoother. I’ll try it with something a bit more demanding on the video later; maybe No Man’s Sky. (I noticed NMS has had several patches since I played it last; if they fixed some of  the shortcomings that bugged me most, I might start playing it a bit more often.)

That’s enough for now. I need coffee and maybe I’ll watch a little TV before I get back to that SF story I mentioned.

Until next time . . .

Get Terra Mechanica for 99¢ thru 12/24

YEP, blatant self-promotion time: Terra Mechanica is a Steampunk anthology which has a story by yours truly in it. Here’s the pic and the blurb from the publisher’s Facebook page:

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From: TERRA MECHANICA: THE VOYAGE OF VALERIE MCGRATH by Peter J Ford: Sent on a desperate mission only she can fulfill, a dedicated researcher discovers the war her government wages against its own people, and the planet they rely upon for survival. Ebook available for $0.99 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords through 12.24.16. http://amzn.to/2i0cfeH

Review: The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter – @RodDuncan

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THE short: A damned good book. Most definitely five stars, and a must-read for fans of steampunk and alternate history.

THE long: I was in the bookshop looking for gifts. I happened along the SF/F aisle, where I saw Unseemly Science by Rod Duncan. It caught my eye because it was face-out on the shelf rather than edge-out and so I saw the cover, and was intrigued.

They say not to judge a book by its cover. What a crock that is. You can’t HELP but be fascinated by a good cover. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve bought for no other reason than they had bloody good cover art. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, for example, and John Varley’s Titan, Wizard, and Demon (aka The Gaian Trilogy).

But I digress. I saw this book. I was interested—but I didn’t buy it, because I was looking for gifts for other people, not for me.

Then my wife said I should have picked out something nice for myself, too. So I went back and grabbed it and gave it to her. And then, Christmas evening, I unwrapped this package, and there was Unseemly Science.

I opened it eagerly . . . and found that it was the second book in a series. Shit. I really wanted to read it. But I didn’t want to read it until I’d read the first book.

Long story shortened: Next day, went back the bookshop. Bought The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter (the first book in the series). Went home. Started reading. Today (that is, the day after starting it), finished it.

And DAMN it’s a good read. The only reason I didn’t read it in a single day was that I was busy the first evening and had to put it down.

So, the gist. Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life—her alternate persona being that of her fictional brother, a private investigator. Why the double identity? I think I can say without it being a spoiler, because it’s revealed in the first couple of pages anyway. You see, Elizabeth lives in an alternate Britain in which women aren’t permitted to own property or manage businesses, so to be able to work as an investigator she needs to be able to disguise herself as a man. (That’s a simplification; Duncan has built an intricate world in which Britain is cut in two, the north and the south being very different places. But I can’t say much more on that without introducing spoilers, so I’ll leave it there.)

As to the story itself . . . Elizabeth is commissioned to find the missing brother of a duchess. Along his trail she finds murder and betrayal, is chased by the dreaded Patent Office, and even joins a circus. No-one is who they seem. The story twists and turns like a maze of alleys on a foggy London night. And the atmosphere of the story is to match—the settings are dark, dank, almost Victorian. (Is it Victorian? There are a good number of clues that say not—but I don’t want to give anything away.) It would make an excellent movie, I might add. I couldn’t put it down; I’ve been stretched out on the sofa most of the day, reading. A very satisfying read, indeed.

Is it steampunk? I’d say so. There are purists out there who might disagree—but at the end of the day, purist definitions are meaningless. If the readers say it’s steampunk, then it’s steampunk. (I mention this because I’ve read comments from some people saying that Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and its sequels aren’t steampunk because they’re set in America and not England. I say they’re wrong. Purists can go way too far sometimes.)

So now I’ve finished The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, I’ll be starting into Unseemly Science just as soon as I can (i.e. later this evening). Note that the third book in the series, The Custodian of Marvels, will be on bookshelves on February 2. I for one am going to be having a hard time waiting for it.

Until next time . . .