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Friday, 29 August 2014

A Writer’s Nightmare Transformed into a Dream of Delight.

Regular readers will know that I have real difficulty with marketing and promotion. Well, recent experiences have taught me it needn’t be so. 

Rather than bore you with repetition here, let me direct you to my guest post on that popular writing blog, Writers’ Village, where you’ll find a short tale of  my conversion to Marketing Master (that, of course, is a spot of hyperbole, but there is some stuff on there that might help you if you’ve been having the same concerns as me about marketing).

Monday, 25 August 2014

After FantastiCon 2014, What Next?

As it’s relevant to what I’m doing, I thought I’d share the latest release of my publisher’s enewsletter here:

Dear Fantastic Subscriber,

This week we have been recovering from the high octane weekend that saw the first ever FantastiCon launched into the stratosphere. It was a cracking success and to say thanks to everyone  who made it happen would mean filling your inbox so instead we'll simply say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone involved. Plans are already afoot for FantastiCon 2015 and we'd love your input so please get in touch with your ideas by emailing;

One of the ideas we have already locked in for next year is a cosplay competition that will net winners CASH PRIZES!

Now, it's the moment lots of you have been waiting for since we published the longlist for our short SF competition earlier this month. The final shortlist entries for the first pure science fiction Fantastic short story anthology are;

The Everything Equation by John Goh
Regen by Colin Ford
Nobel Savage by Thomas Pitts
Alice by David Styles
All in the Mind by John Hoggard
Two Reviews by Thomas Pitts
Striker Amok by Pierre Le Gue
Eternal by Shaun Gibson
Fastbreeder by Pierre Le Gue
Hope by David Styles
Indirect Harm by John Harper
Lisa Lives by Anthony M Olver
Manikin by Nici Lilley
Night Monsters by Pierre Le Gue
Private Show by David K Paterson
Starburst by Andrew Wright
The Moon a Balloon by Rose Thurlbeck
The Package by Aaron Miles
The House by John Hoggard
Three Second War by Darren Grey
If we start killing by Ulla Susimetsä
Dying Star by Marko Susimetsä
Congratulations everyone!

The judges have been wrestling with the longlist and, for the first time ever for one of our competitions, they have been unable to remove a single story from the longlist!

We will shortly start the process of editorial tennis with the authors and we hope to have the anthology released in ebook format by mid October this year.

Our next projects are building up steam and comprise a wonderful collection of poetry, prose and short stories by Boris Glikman, the third and final novel in Stuart Aken's 'A Seared Sky' series (the second book 'Partings' was officially launched as an ebook at FantastiCon and will be released very soon as a print paperback) and a debut fantasy trilogy titled 'Travels with the Red Friar' by Marty McMullen. More news of these projects will be incoming shortly.

In other news, now that our Elite: Dangerous books are all produced and out in the world, we will be starting the mammoth task of fulfilling everybody's Kickstarter pledge gifts including the production of special boxes for the books and the printing of silk screen printed faction flags for the special editions. These will be created over the coming weeks and everyone should have everything they pledged for well in time for the December holidays.

And finally, a huge thank you to all our friends and new followers who have signed up to this newsletter, followed us on Facebook and followed our Twitter feed, you are all Fantastic!

Just imagine,
Daniel and Gabi Grubb

And my involvement? Well, there’s the news about Partings, of course, but the publisher has also asked me to contribute a short story for the science fiction competition prize-winner’s anthology, as I did previously for their first, Fusion. So, watch this space.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Unexpected Journeys, edited by Juliet E McKenna, Reviewed.

If you enjoy fantasy, in any or all of its many various forms, and you aren’t a member of the British Fantasy Society, you’ll miss out on this pearl. The collection is given to members as a part of their membership and isn’t otherwise generally available.

The anthology includes different styles of fantasy amongst its eight stories, none of them what I suspect many people think of as ‘fantasy’ when they consider the genre. As Juliet says in her introduction, ‘Fiction began with fantasy fiction. Go back to Gilgamesh and you’ll find tales of heroes, magic and monsters.’ She goes on to list the works of other noted authors of the genre, including Homer, the Norse sagas, and the Arthurian Cycle. She isn’t as cynical as me, leaving out the best selling work of fantasy fiction ever: the Bible.

The stories included vary greatly and each is a small masterpiece of its particular style. We have modified folk tales, a version of a popular theme in fantasy – the thief in the city – but with important idiosyncrasies, stories that meld the horror genre with fantasy and others that defy classification; a quality I much admire in fiction.

All are well written and intriguing in their different ways. This is a book for those who love the worlds created by gifted writers. I enjoyed it and recommend it to all who can get hold of a copy.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Partings; A Seared Sky Now Available on Amazon

As promised, here's the link to take you direct to your local Amazon site, where you can buy a copy of , as an ebook.
Partings; A Seared Sky
This, as many of you will know, is the second book in the Fantasy Trilogy. You enjoyed Joinings, now you can enjoy Partings.
The third book, Convergence, is due for release before Xmas, so you can read the whole tale this year!

The Worst Thing You Can Do For Reviews?

Reviews: we all need them, welcome them, want them. But when that wanting verges on the obsessive it can become seriously destructive; not just for the individual, but for the integrity of the entire system.
I recently received the following Tweet: @??????? Need a book review for your book? 5 written reviews, in exchange to write a 5 for my book. reviews=sales :-)  I’ve disguised the name of the Tweeter, for reasons that I hope are obvious. This sort of plea, which is essentially a request for another to join in cheating, does enormous damage to the whole value system enshrined in reviewing. It’s a particularly noxious example, however, and there are many less blatant attempts to circumvent the system. It’s not unknown, apparently, for certain authors to assume various different guises so they can review their own work under assumed names, giving it high value. Others indulge in less obvious swaps of reviews, asking privately for such accolades and promising similar praise for the partner’s work without ever actually reading the piece.
Because I review openly and regularly, I’m approached by publishers to review new books. I’ve no objection to this, as it gets me a free book. But I do it only on the understanding that I make it clear this is a book that was provided in exchange for a review, and that I will publish such review as and where I see fit. Most publishers are happy with that arrangement, recognising that reviews done under pressure of potential censorship are pretty meaningless.
Not so long ago, I was approached by an agent on behalf of a new writer. I’d already connected with the writer with the intention of swapping books with him for honest review purposes. But the agent made demands, and they were demands, not simply suggestions, that I pass the review before her and not publish it without her express consent. Needless to say, I rejected such an arrangement. Whilst I can see why an agent would want to protect the reputation of a newbie author, I have no interest in supporting work that has no merit. In the end, the author and I made an arrangement between us to do as initially intended: i.e. swap books for honest reviews. As it turned out, I didn’t review his book: it was pretty poorly written and the story failed to move me. I explained to him the situation; unwilling to give him a poor review so early in his writing career.
His agent later responded (though the writer didn’t) to say that no review would be made of my book, either. It was a response that didn’t surprise me.
If we fail to review honestly, how are readers to have any faith in the process? We all understand that readers often chose a book, more or less as a matter of faith, based on reviews given to work of which they have no personal experience. It’s surely incumbent on us, as authors, to ensure that the reviews we give are always honest, isn’t it? Human nature dictates that we avoid giving bad reviews of fellow writers, since it’s quite likely that professional jealousy will result in bad reviews of our work in a sort of childish revenge. But we can, at least, simply fail to express an opinion on such work instead. What I would hope none of us would do is play the cheating game of a ‘quid pro quo’ simply for the acquisition of good reviews. If the work is undeserving of such accolades, the answer is to make it better, not to cheat readers by pretending it’s better than it is.

Frankly, I’d rather be told honestly that a reader hated my work than indulge in a system that provides an opinion based on cheating. What would I gain as a writer and what would potential readers gain by such underhand activity? No, let’s all make sure if we come across such behaviour, we let the perpetrators know we disapprove. If they persist, then, I think, is the time to expose them. My Tweeter was silent following my rebuff: I hope that means he thought better of it.