Fallen Warriors – What is it all about?

As best as I can remember, I had the idea for Fallen Warriors during a church service, where something said triggered off a series of thoughts about a story where Christians were like superheroes, using miraculous powers. Originally I thought this would make a great movie or TV series with lots of action and the miracles taking centre stage.

I started writing and the characters kind of took over. While the story certainly starts with a miracle, I found the real story lies in how the characters each react to what has happened.

The central character in the story is Emma Hunter, a young woman with her whole life ahead of her, who enjoyes clubbing and partying, whose life is cut short when she dies at the start of the book… She is brought back to life and this then started to intrigue me. What would that feel like?

The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is familiar to many Christians, but the story gives so little detail and no insight into what it felt like for Lazarus to hear Jesus commanding him to come out of the tomb, to be wrapped in grave clothes and finding out he’d been dead for several days. I wanted to explore this through Emma’s experiences and the direction of Fallen Warriors started to take a different turn as the story became more about the consequences of miracles, especially for people who had no previous experience of them.

If you would like to try Fallen Warriors out, here’s a free sample:

The final proof!

My final proof copy of Fallen Warriors arrived! Well actually, two copies (not sure what went wrong there…)

The blurriness on the font on the matt version has been fixed and the corrections have been made to the interior. The paperback version is ready to go! I’ve ordered 100 copies from the printer (five of which will have to be sent to the British Libraries), leaving 95 copies available for sale.

I’ve had four pre-orders already from friends and need to figure out how to take orders through this site. For now – if you would like to buy a copy, use the contact form on this website. The price will be £9.99 per copy including postage for anyone in the UK. If you live outside the UK then contact me giving your address and I’ll send you a quote.

Fallen Warriors has 35 ratings and 21 reviews on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.7.

Going Physical – Getting a book printed

Getting your novel ready to be printed as a paperback book is a challenge – much more so than publishing an eBook. Formatting is more involved as the template has to fit to certain specifications, but several companies (including CreateSpace and Book Printing UK) offer templates you can start with. (I have to say, CreateSpace offer an excellent range of templates!)

Some in the indie-author community simply won’t bother with having a printed copy made available, but the markets I’m aiming for with both The Great Scottish Land Grab and Fallen Warriors still has a lot of readers who prefer physical books and I would lose out on a lot of sales if I don’t provide a physical version.

So, I’ve been working with Book Printing UK over the past three months to get 100 copies of Fallen Warriors into print.

It’s taken so long as I’ve been fitting the work around my full-time job, my family, and initial attempts at marketing the eBook version of Fallen Warriors.

I had two initial proof copies printed up, one with a gloss cover and the other with a matt cover to see which worked best.

The matt cover looks a lot better, but unfortunately the initial printing of the matt cover was blurry (the gloss was sharp) and also, despite having had several proof-reads, I found some additional typos inside that I decided had to be fixed. Myself and a friend re-read the whole book (I went backwards, a page at a time!) and found some more missing commas etc. so I’ll be updating the eBook version soon as well.

I was expecting the final proof yesterday, but only received a card through the door from our Postie…

Guess I’ll be getting up early tomorrow…

Day 50 – Half way through the 100 words in 100 days challenge

I’m half way through my self-imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days.

You’d think it would be easy…

I’m beginning to get an appreciation of what the life of a daily columnist must be like. A need to come up with a set amount of words day in and day out regardless of what else is going on.

I’d lost track of how many posts I’d written, but fortunately checked yesterday and realised today is half way.

To be honest, I’m struggling.

The last couple of weeks I’ve found myself slipping in my commitment to write tomorrow’s posts today. I’ve been posting late in the day and have not been able to keep a focus on what I would be writing next.

That has allowed me to come up with some posts I wouldn’t have written otherwise, but it is not developing the discipline I want.

If you’re interested, here are the high level numbers:

Over the last 24 days I’ve published another 11,308 words. That’s 2,000 words more than in the first 25 days! My average has gone up to 471 words a day from 410! I had wanted to write less each day, but in general, am not managing it.

However, one post in particular really bumped that number up: 10 ways to fail at publishing and marketing your book was 2,172 words. If I exclude that post, my total and average are very similar.

I’m now working as a full time writer and had planned to have written 15,000 words towards my sequel to Fallen Warriors by this time. I’m only at 4,165… The planning is taking me longer than I’d hoped. I should have expected it. I’m adding characters and am trying to plot out two novels instead of just one. I will keep on persevering!

Looking at whether people are actually reading this blog is useful:

The fact is that the spikes I’ve seen in page views are all due to publishing information that’s useful for other authors (that big spike in the middle also due to the 10 ways to fail post…) I’m glad to share this, but longer term, I come back to the big question, who I am writing this blog for?

I’m feeling more and more strongly that I want to aim this blog at readers. That I want to write posts that will encourage people to want to read more of my writing. I wonder if that means posting more flash fiction, but also sharing short stories, or even teasers, the first page of a story to encourage people to buy or sign up to my mailing list to read the rest.

Of course that would mean writing more short stories and I’m not sure I’m there yet in terms of being able to do that. At least not until my next novel is complete.

I am planning to publish some book reviews over the summer and have some other posts planned, so will be working with that for now.

Onwards and upwards!

Day two in the author’s house…

Let me start by saying I’m not planning to spend every day from now on recording the minutiae of writing a novel. I wanted to hold myself accountable through this blog and that’s the purpose of this post.

A week ago I posted my regimented writing plan. If I stick to that plan, I’m certain to complete at least one draft of 100,000 words in four weeks of writing. If I’m writing…

As I always do when I finish a contract, I wrote up a to do list. A list of all the things I’ve not had time for during the contract. There is always a conflict between what I want to do, what I need to do and what I feel I have to do.

On top of family and work related responsibilities, I spent a large part of Tuesday and Wednesday finishing off a final edit and format of the print edition of Fallen Warriors

Yesterday evening, after two days where I imagined I might plot out two novels – and managed only to begin that process, I put that dream on hold and started writing. This morning I continued writing, reasoning that I might need to explore the characters’ stories further before the overall plot of the book becomes clear.

I wasn’t up this morning as sharp as I wanted though and haven’t kept to my regimented plan. Today I’ve been working on preparing for a meet the author event I’m going to be part of in September. Tomorrow I may have to switch off my phone!

On the positive though, I went for a short run today, my first attempt at exercise in over a month. I wrote 2047 words in 225 minutes spread over the whole day. I’ve developed a new character, well, three of them actually for a story that may run across both sequels.

I’ve failed to meet my target word count, but there’s always tomorrow and each day I write is one day closer to realising my goal of publishing a sequel to Fallen Warriors!

Act One, Scene One

Well, I finally went and did it… I’ve written the first scene of Fallen Warriors Season Two and if I say so myself, it’s pretty good!

I confess, I still don’t have a full plot, just a vague outline, but I felt this evening I had to make a start as otherwise I could waste a full week trying to figure out what happens next and for everything I’ve written up to now, there has always been an element of the story determining the story.

So, if you enjoyed the first Fallen Warriors novel and are wondering when the next is coming out… It’s on it’s way!

A long weekend

We arrived back in Scotland yesterday after a long weekend driving down to a reunion and back again.

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll have seen I didn’t manage to schedule in a post for early on Sunday. The first day of my 100 words in 100 days challenge that I was unprepared for.

On Thursday I finished a contract with a client, not knowing for certain whether they wanted me to come back in this week to do some more work. I find it hard to plan ahead when I don’t know if I’ll be working or even where…

Fortunately we’d been planning to take this weekend away for months. A chance to catch up with friends that ended up being a perfect round up to the contract and preparation for beginning the new project – writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. I don’t know for sure what direction this novel will take. I don’t know when I’ll next be working. I’m not even sure what I’ll post on this blog over the next few days…

I see that uncertainty mirrored in National and World events. Will Britain leave the European Union? Will our economy collapse?

There’s a disturbing chapter in the Bible – Matthew 24. It records Jesus responding to his disciples questions about when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the sign of Jesus returning and of the “end of the age?”

Jesus tells them of a series of sign posts events, many of which have already happened and are calamitous enough, but then goes on to talk about even more disturbing events that call into question the nature of our reality.

Given that Jesus kept messing with our understanding of reality – healing the sick and disabled just by placing his hands on them, raising the dead back to life, commanding a storm to be quiet and even cursing a tree so it shrivelled and died – when he talks about the sun being darkened and the stars falling from the sky, he does so from a position of authority.

To all those who love Jesus, this chapter is one of hope, a promise that no matter how bad things get, Jesus will return and will reward us for faithfulness to him. If you do not love Jesus then this is a warning to you, that any leader who promises things will only get better is lying to you, that war and turmoil will get worse, that one day you will be judged by the God who created you.

Jesus was sent by God to call us back to him, to take our place receiving the punishment we deserve for rejecting our creator, for the sin we have committed.

Jesus calls us to repent of sin, to seek him, to seek his forgiveness and follow him.

Will you follow Jesus today?

Sharpening my axe

You’ve heard the story of ol’ Abe Lincoln who allegedly said that if you need to cut down a tree quickly, the first thing you should do is spend time sharpening your axe.

All being well, I’m planning to spend tomorrow (my first day of writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors) on the writers equivelant: plotting, gathering my notes, brainstorming, mindmapping and generally trying to set out a structure to guide me as I set out to write two novels in two months.

Maybe I’ll actually spend some time writing, but I’m sure that I’ll get more done over the next weeks if I’ve got a plan to follow than if I’m constantly struggling to work out how to connect everything together. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Proof Reading for Dummies

So here’s my dummies guide to proof reading…

Take a book, start at the beginning, read slowly until the end and make a note of every mistake you find.

Simples…

Except… It’s really, really difficult when it’s a book you’ve written!

At some point I’m going to have to start paying a professional to proof read my novels. Until then there is no other option but to rely on the kindness of friends who have an eye for punctuation and grammar and spelling; and also to pick up my own book… Again and again and again until I’ve read it so many times that it’s almost stopped being my story and just become words on a page.

Tell you what though, the advice to start at the back of your book and read each page in reverse order does help.

Also, getting a physical proof copy printed up makes a big difference. I noticed a space where it had no right to be, fifty pages in. I must have read that passage a dozen times on screen, but seeing it there on a physical page, it stood out like a… Well, like a space invader… Please don’t shoot me 😉

I’ve heard that reading your book out loud is also a good technique. I’m not quite there yet with that one, but for some passages it has been useful.

How do you ensure your book is as free as possible from those irritating typos?

A regimented writing plan

How am I going to do this, write two first drafts in two months?

It’s going to be very practical…

I’ll get up, probably at 6am.

I’ll write for an hour and then have some breakfast – say 15mins.

Then write for another hour which will take me to 8:15.

I plan to then go out for a short run. Get the blood flowing again. Shower.

Back at my desk by 9am.

Write for an hour and half.

Short fifteen minute break.

Write for another hour and a half.

That will have been five hours writing with 1 hour and 15 min breaks, start at 6, finish at 12:15.

Regimented…

I’m not sure I’ve ever been that disciplined in my life!

Well, it’s a plan. They say no plan survives the start of the battle intact. That’s okay. The aim is to spend the rest of the day with my family. Unless they are away, in which case I will spend some time on admin stuff – marketing my existing books, blogging etc. Or maybe even tackle the household to do list…

I’m still planning to blog daily, though may modify exactly how I do that. If I’m writing 5,000 words a day towards my novel, I’m not going to feel the same commitment to writing a blog post daily. Instead, I may do what I’ve actually done for this week – write the week’s posts in advance and schedule them all at the same time. I’ll let you know.

If you’ve ever written a sequel (or a first novel) in a month, how did you go about it?