Tag Archives: Writing

Message Bearer On Sale

As it’s (Saint) Valentine’s Day, and nothing says “I love you” more than buying yourself an action-packed urban fantasy adventure filled with magic, demons and shattered universes, Message Bearer is now on sale for the remainder of February at the unbelievable price of $0.99 (or your local equivalent!).

Forget saying it with love, say it with…

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Message Bearer Reviews

We’re approaching 3 months since Message Bearer was let loose amongst the world and I’m pleased to say it’s managed to obtain some decent reviews as well. In the interests of sharing the love, it only seems fair that I share this good feedback now, before anyone sneaks a one star review on to Amazon 🙂

Review from Paranormal Bookworms Unite (5 Stars)

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Yep that’s right! This is a five star book easily!

Seb is introduced into a world he never thought existed when he is drawn to a place. He seems to be drawn to many places. The most recent place he was drawn to changed his life forever. He never thought that he would find this much out about the world, let alone himself. He doesn’t know how to handle it at first, but then things take a huge change when he learns to control an unexpected power that he can channel.

I was caught up in this book. This book has so much action, that I found myself fighting sleep night after night as I read on. When I gave in to going to bed I found myself thinking about the book, and wondering what would happen next. I fell asleep thinking about the book, and woke up thinking that I couldn’t wait till the time came when I could pick up the book again, after other life issues were taken care of course. It is not often that this happens with a book. Only a book that I am so thrilled to read could cause this reaction out of me. I also found myself talking to my boyfriend about the book. He is not a reader, but still humored me, because he knows that reading makes me happy. I happy to declare this book as a favorite of mine.

If you are looking for an action packed book that is high fantasy, and has a good load of paranormal excitement thrown in then give this book a shot, because chances are you will not regret reading this one. That is how thrilling this book is. Do not miss out!

Review from Ingenius Cat (4 Stars)

Boy meets girl, girl is killed by demon, boy discovers he’s a wizard and is trained by secret demon hunters.

The protagonist, Seb, is nearly killed when he tries to save a woman from a demonic creature from another dimension. She dies but inserts what could be a highly important message in his brain. Naturally, the bad guys now want to capture Seb. Luckily for him, he’s picked up by the other side instead, and they decide to train him in magic so they can retrieve the message.

What could be a thoroughly cliche plot is lifted by a good dose of skulduggery: the bad guys are bad, but there aren’t any straightforwardly ‘good’ guys. From an engaging opening, the story romps along with plenty of action. Possibly too much action, because I was getting a bit bored of fight scenes and was glad of the break when magic training started. Indeed, I would have been happy to have more of that, since the magic system is quite original and interesting.

What others are saying about Message Bearer:

“It was immediately obvious that the author had a fully realized mythology for the reader to uncover through the plot. The real-world setting is northern England, which is wonderful because most UK-set urban fantasy takes place in London and this was a refreshing change. But there is an entire universe behind this one, and in fact there are multiple universes with a rich history and the vast scope and ambition is pretty astonishing. The impressive thing is that everything fits together perfectly.”  (Amazon.com)

“What a fabulous read. The first chapter draws you in with action and mystery, and its a wild ride from there. Great world building, look forward to reading more!

Not only a well thought out story, but the prose is careful and endearing.” (Amazon.com)

If anyone is interested in being a reviewer for the Message Bearer in exchange for a free review copy please drop me a mail at mike@msdobing.com

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Now Available: Shattered Realms – A Supernatural Collection

Greetings on this wet and windy Sunday (at least it is ‘oop north in the UK). I’ve collated my four remaining short pieces (don’t ask about the rest, it’s a sore subject) into a collection that’s now available for purchase on Amazon, and free on Kindle Unlimited.

The reasons why are two fold:

  • I felt that $0.99 was too much to charge for one short story, even if a couple of them are over 10,000 words long. Amazon won’t let me put them on cheaper, otherwise I would.
  • It’s a little snippet of something for people to (hopefully) enjoy before Auran Chronicles #2 comes out in a few months.

Anyway hope you enjoy, if you read any I’d suggest Mirror Man, which is my personal favourite still. Coma Companion is my first ever published piece from way back in 2005 but it still holds a special place in the story vault.

The Blurb:

A collection of four creepy stories exploring various elements of the supernatural, from the subtle, growing dread of Mirror Man to the mind-bending revelations of Cogito Ergo Sum, Shattered Realms is a must for fans of the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits.

All four stories have been published previously as stand alones, but are now available for the first time as a collection.

The Mirror Man

Steven Cree wakes up at the same time, every night. With every passing day, injuries appear on his body, cracks appear on his walls, and the trees that surround his estate seem to encroach upon his home.

But worst of all, it’s the man in the mirror. The face that was himself, but is slowly changing into that of a stranger.

Cogito Ergo Sum

“…you never wonder how you’ll react to a defining moment in history until you experience it for yourself…”

Gareth Young makes a tweak to the most powerful experiment on earth based on just a hunch. The result is a revelation of the most profound, but is all it seems to be?

The Reality Trip

A routine flight takes a turn for the supernatural as Chris finds himself in an altered reality where the world he knows no longer exists, his identity is in doubt and where terrifying beings hunt him down.

Coma Companion

When Doctor David Baines creates a machine that allows him to directly enter the mind of a comatose patient, he encounters a twisted reality that, rather than being the inner workings of one person’s mind, is actually a limbo world beyond life, and death, in unexpected forms, awaits the unwary.

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Halfway there…

So I’ve passed the 50,000 word mark now, and am approaching 60,000 at a good pace. With a target of 100,000 words (Message Bearer was 101,000), it’s looking good.

I’m coming into the back end of the middle section now too, which is a great relief. It’s this area that always sags and where the story seems to meander all over the place as it strives towards that end goal. True, I have my “must have” scenes that link the story together, but the path getting there can be a confusing spaghetti-like mess of random scenes, conversations and characters that appear in one chapter only to never be seen again.

Thankfully, the beginning of the end is in sight. I’ve just written a pivotal sequence of scenes that not only ramp up the tension significantly but also explore in much greater detail the mythology of the Auran Chronicles.  There’s a lot of history behind the magi and the Weave, and it’s nice to delve even more into that, especially when it relates directly to our protagonists. Obviously there’s going to be a heavy amount of chopping, changing and re-aligning for the second draft, but I’m happy the end of the story as envisaged in my synopsis is on track, even if all the stuff in between hasn’t quite so stuck to plan 🙂

The problem now, if indeed, it is a problem, is that not only am I almost certain that the story requires four books not three (although I really want to get in done in three) , but in expanding the world significantly in book 2 I’ve also introduced a new bunch of characters, of which at least two I’d love to spin off into their own series, or at least, to steal a Disney term, an Auran Chronicles “anthology” story or two. Aside from Cade, the half-daemon Brotherhood warrior who so deserves his own story (mental note – Auran Chronicles: Born of Blood), we also meet Shimmer, a Borderguard from the barren lands that exists between shards (the shattered worlds of the Auran Chronicles), who has a fascinating back story of his own that I can’t wait to explore.

So all in all, definitely a good problem, the challenge is, which one to write first?

Anyway, must dash, last night I left Seb several hundred feet up in the air with the ground rushing to meet him. I didn’t know how he was going to get out of this one, so just left it like that. It seemed a good idea at the time, but as I stare at the flashing cursor I’m not so sure. The joys of writing I guess!

 

2 Months Self Published – Lessons Learned So Far

Technically that headline is a lie. I’ve been self-published since 2014, but it’s only been two months since I published Message Bearer, which is my first novel-length foray (and my best, hopefully!) and so felt more appropriate this time round.

Some may also think that two months is waaaay to soon to have lessons learned, but, as with any venture into something new there’s lessons to be learned at various points along the way, they just change depending on your experience.

Anyway, in bullet point form, please see below some key things I’ve learned (both “do’s” and “don’ts”) in the past couple of months.

  • DON’T keep checking the Amazon sales dashboard every five minutes. Unless you’re the Next Big Thing and people are buying your books like there’s no tomorrow, there’s going to be little movement in that red/blue line between 14:02 and 14:03. Trust me. I’ve done it, especially in the early days where my eyes were glued to that cursed dashboard. Now, I’ve managed to limit myself to 3 views a day – first thing in the morning, half way through the day and last thing at night. As most of my readers seemed to be in the U.S the sales seem to start coming when my american cousins are up and about.
  • ENGAGE with the community. Now, when I first heard this piece of advice (and it’s repeated widely by those with much more experience than I) I didn’t really buy into it. What’s to gain by posting in forums, twitter, facebook etc? How would it help sales? And you know what? I’m not sure it does. However, what it DOES do is give access to many talented and friendly people who are happy to give their time and knowledge to help newbies like me in this scary new world. Everyone has their own experience, their own advice and so forth. Some of it won’t work for you, but other stuff will resonate and you can add to your own portfolio. And most importantly, you make new friends who understand the challenges of indie publishing, who can emphasise with the fear of that empty page or the damage of the plot doubt monkeys. Do it. It’s worth it.
  • LEARN from your peers. Find other indie authors who’ve done the job well, especially those in your genre. See how they promote, see how they engage. Look at their covers, their blurbs. I’m not saying copy them, I’m saying stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from those who’ve walked the road already. It will save you time and you will learn a lot.
  • MARKET. But do it intelligently. Look at the Self Pub forums on Absolute Write, see what sites are recommended for promoting work. When you do run a promotion, monitor the impact it has on sales whilst it’s running. Learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve made the mistake of running multiple promos at once so it was hard to track which one was working (or were they all working?) and which wasn’t. Retweet when your book is featured, Like it on Facebook. Let your followers know. Don’t spam. DON’T SPAM.
  • KEEP READING, but try and avoid your genre. In my last post I talked about the plot doubt monkeys that arose when reading in my genre whilst working on book 2. Others may disagree, but I still stand by this. Read, and read widely, but do it in different genres. I’m currently reading a crime whodunnit and loving it.
  • BE PATIENT. Don’t fret. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I’d insert another wise statement but I can’t find any more. The point is, don’t fret about slow sales, no reviews and all that. It will come, but this kind of thing takes time, it’s organic. People will read, they will spread the word, but it won’t happen overnight. When you read about the latest overnight success I suspect if you look deeper you will see said author has been plugging away for years before they finally struck gold.
  • KEEP WRITING. KEEP WRITING. KEEP WRITING. I felt this one was worth repeating. I’ve written several novels and many short stories over the years. Only a handful I felt were good enough to self publish and many of the others now reside in digital heaven (a bad usb stick and a bad backup strategy on my part – don’t ask), but the key thing above all else I’ve taken from the release of Message Bearer is to KEEP GOING. I’ve continued into book 2. I’m still talking about and plugging Message Bearer but if I’m serious about this writing game I need to get more work out. It keeps the writing muscles honed and you feel like you’re progressing. My writing is improving every week and it’s nice to see how it’s evolving.
  • WRITE EVERY DAY. Now, this advice is nothing new, but it’s so relevant. It really is. Perhaps not even every day, but try for at least 5 days a week if you’re serious. I try for 1000-1500 words a day, which I fit in after family and work. Sometimes it’s bloody hard, but what I’ve found works is that even if I get one line down, one sodding line, it has a psychological impact that I can’t explain. You feel like you’re making progress, even it’s just a few words that day. I’ve found that if I stop writing for one day, then it easily becomes 2, then 3, then a month, then…you get the picture.

Hopefully these lessons will resonate with some of you. In reality what I’ve said is nothing new, and there’s a plethora of more experienced and talented writers than I who will tell you the same. Check out Absolute Write and KBoards. There’s lots of support on these sites and advice (and tough love, if you need it) and they’re well worth a visit.

Anyway, good luck, and keep writing!

40,000+ words reached. Bring out the plot-doubt monkeys

So, progress on book 2 has been slightly slower than I would’ve liked, but hey, that’s the Christmas holidays for you. I did try and get some writing done but in the end family and good times won out, and rightly so, too.

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle now. I’ve been churning about 1000-1200 words a day out for 5 days a week since Christmas so that Scrivener bar is growing nicely.

Unfortunately though, my evil nemesis the plot-doubt monkeys have made their first appearance. These evil creatures tormented me throughout book 1, challenging the logic of the plot, making me think that the story I was trying to tell was too tricky to pull off at my level of ability. I ploughed on of course, but only managed to finish the book after a good few months off inbetween drafts.

It’s different this time I think. I don’t have the same fears I had before. I know once I get to the end of this draft that I can fix whatever issues I’ve created getting there. That’s the joy of editing after all and to be honest I’m quite looking forward to it.

Instead, I’ve made the mistake of doing too much alternative reading whilst I’ve been ploughing ahead with this draft. Normally this isn’t a problem, but I’ve also been reading books in genres similar to mine.

Big mistake. Big. Huge. (To coin a line from Pretty Woman)

The doubts that come from this are such questions as – “Is my world rich enough compared to X”, or “has this concept been done before?”.

I’ve found myself second guessing more than I would normally do. Previously I didn’t really consider other books like mine, or fear that my story wouldn’t match up to those. But reading a couple now as made me rethink certain story elements that I perhaps wouldn’t have before.

There’s no real way to unthink (that should really be a word) what I’ve pondered reading these books, but going forwards I’ve made a decision not to read in my genre whilst head down in a WIP. It intrudes too much on my own world and makes me actively tweak the story to avoid potential similarities to others. Stupid I know, but there you are.

On the flip side I’m generally happy with where I’m at with book 2. The story is coming along well, and Seb and co have just had a massive WTF moment that I really enjoyed writing. This sets the scene for the second half of the book now that hopefully leads into the gripping conclusion (well, it looks gripping in the outline) I’ve planned.

So…*opens a window*…Away with you, plot-doubt monkeys. Fly, fly away!

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