Part Two of the Observer Series will launch on 30th January on Kindle – It is available for pre-order now:
The continuing story of Cathy Rodriguez – a Senior Observer in the Interplanetary Geographic Service. The story follows on from Part One The World of Fives
Cathy is recalled from her Observer duties as she is asked to establish first contact with a new life form. Meanwhile the Conspiracy to prevent humans changing their non-Intervention policy continues to try and kill her. Together with Marta De Jaste, a Senior Investigator, and Tony Briggs her former jailer and security officer, they travel to the chosen planet.
On the planet Tullymeade, Karloon Niesta, a disgraced scientific observer, detects a strange anomaly. A discovery that will change his planet forever.
In deep space two groups of survivors try and recover from their battle in orbit above the planet Freevur
<<Comms Transmission SGRINC67564 − 3680-04-19-1402:16.23 burst Key XGDES2056Blowfish#@GEOSURVEYS & XGDES2056Blowfish#@COLSERV
Data Load: 1.2Tb compressed.
Survey inspection methodology: x25-theta.
Mission: 28427335f: Report 225: Comment: Mission Complete!
Reporting Officer: SupGenCol/GenGeo Rodriguez in Command Survey Ship Theta-Carmalite. In command still.
Sector: Tesla 281 Segment X-ray 132 sub-segment one. There aren’t any other sub-segments
Mission Objectives: Observe, probably the dullest mission I have ever been on apart from the collision with the asteroid/mini planet/moon whatever it was. Oh, and the rest of the millions of collisions, explosions, random debris, etc.
Earth Distance: 326,853LY. A very long way from Earth – never been this far out before.
Mission Date: 3680-04-19. Time to head in.
Population: Report 226: Comment: None, still none and will still be none in a billion years
Physiology: Report 227: Comment: Ditto
Secondary Population: Report 228: Comment: None
Language: Report 229: Comment: None, but mine is getting worse – again
Sun – System Planets: Report 230: Comment: New planetary system forming in this arm as expected with high density of Helium and Hydrogen particles. Explosive elements appear to have been caused by clash of paths of two L type gas giants, hence causing what appeared to be a super nova. Of course that was fifteen Earth years ago based on light speed explosion detection from nearest Bot. Data shows possibility of L type resulting from the mess but the jury is still out. Will require full GeoServ analysis to confirm but we’d need another half billion years before finding out for sure.
Any planets, that might have been in the original system of the star are long gone. Radiation levels are exceptionally high and there is a lot of physical debris preventing closer approach. Probes in place but several have been lost to high velocity impact. Theta-Carmalite received minor damage before withdrawing further out. Okay it was a bit more than minor damage but we’re fixing up nicely.
Situation unstable so please warn my followers or chasers of the dangers and not to get too close.
Ship Status: Report 230: Comment: Damage repaired. Probe stocks at 30% of total. Crew bored, you told me I would be.
Recommendations: Time to head in, I need a glass of real wine from CarpaMax.
Comms Transmission SGRINC67564 − 3680-04-19-1402:16.23 burst Key XGDES2056Blowfish#@GEOSURVEYS & XGDES2056Blowfish#@COLSERV>>
<<Comms Transmission SGRINC67564 − 3680-04-19-1403:38:28 burst Key XGDES2056Blowfish#@GEOSURVEYS & XGDES2056Blowfish#@COLSERV
Reporting Officer: DirFus/IntSupDir Constantine Del Quiller. Acknowledged Mission Complete, Proceed CarpaMax, I shall see you there!
Comms Transmission SGRINC67564 − 3680-04-19-1403:38:28 burst Key XGDES2056Blowfish#@GEOSURVEYS & XGDES2056Blowfish#@COLSERV>>
I thought I would take a break from actual writing to show you some of the tools I use to put the story together. As an example I am using Intervention the second part of The Observer Series. Whether what I display makes it into the final cut we will have to see. I am over 50,000 words into the story.
The main tool I use is Scrivener, the chapter manuscript is in the centre of the screen with the list of proposed chapter headings, characters and places/scenes on the left. All my writing is done here and the formatting for eBooks and Paperbacks using Scrivener’s Compile feature.
In the continuing absence of an iPad version for Scrivener, I use Index Card when I am away from my desktop Mac. It does link with Scrivener but it s not the same.
The next tool I use is to keep my timeline straight. This is Aeon Timeline which integrates with Scrivener. This one shows a couple of Arcs (chapters or scenes) with events and then cross linked to characters, scenes etc. I do not need this for all my stories but when it gets complicated i.e. with travel, synchronous events, etc. it keeps things organised
Next comes the ever present Excel. Nothing very clever here, apart from all the ratios and calculations to convert Earth measurements and time into my alien settings. Of course I do not need this for every story but I find it essential in my SciFi. I like to think that my stories could work if you ignore the faster than light etc elements. Before I used Scrivener and Aeon, I also used it for character lists and timelines i.e. calculating how old people are and what day of the week it was/will be.
Finally, there is, of course, research. In the screen shot below, from a Physics site, (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/circles/Lesson-3/The-Value-of-g), I was checking up on how G is calculated, then using the formula in Excel to calculate for my other planets. Research varies considerably from Google Maps for other stories to University research papers that I read when writing To The Survivors about how viruses spread.
I know that many writers use other tools from simple text editors to complex design systems for covers. I use PaintShop Pro for that. One of my last Windows only tools. Keep trying to learn others but have not found a layered system one (that can import my old ones), as easy to use – I just wish there was a Mac version – come on Corel anyone would think Macs were new!
I have also used a CAD program for laying out physical buildings. I have also used mind- mapping software – that was in An Agent’s Rise and I actually created the mind map I had the characters do.
I have not been updating all the sub-pages of this site as frequently as I would like. Still I’ll have some time soon to devote to writing and the supporting effort.
On that theme I have joined Readers In The Know as another way of trying to reach more readers, especially when I have offers for books going like the ongoing Smashwords deals I have although in this case the primary links are to Amazon.
To the point of the blog – updates to current writing progress:
An Agent’s Prize – the third book in what I’m calling the Demise series – after a long stall this has finally got going again. I have had to sort out the plot’s timeline to make it work and drop a major scene idea which was forcing to many other scenes.
Intervention – Another stalled process that has got going again. This is the second part of The Observer Series. I was making it too complex, so some cutting and altering needed to be done before progress could be made. That revision has mostly been done and further chapters added
Collection One – Not far off finishing, but in the put away and think about it for a while. Not happy with the proposed cover nor the title. Actually, not totally convinced by a couple of the stories.
Revolt – No progress, this may be put away for a while
To The Survivors – The Sequel – Has been started but I have a conflict in where it starts with several alternate ideas and three opening chapters. The biggest problem has always remained, where does it go and from when, till when? The original spans twenty years or more.
There are other snippets and starts but nothing definite. For those of you who have heard snippets from me – I can’t say when or how these will evolve.
Enough blogging – there is lots of writing to do as well as promoting existing works, setting pricing, and not checking sales
To celebrate the forthcoming launch of Landscape I have some coupon codes via Smashwords to grab my existing books at special discounts for a limited time only!
Simply add the coupon code at check out
I am trying to decide if I should create different versions of my latest books to attract more types of readers as not everyone has a Kindle or other e-Reader, nor wants one.
For my first book, An Agent’s Demise, I have Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, and Smashwords versions. The ePub is also on iBooks and B&N therefore on any e-reader like the Nook. I am in the process of creating an Audio version via ACX.
For my second, To The Survivors, I dispensed with the Hardback, iBook and B&N but there are Kindle and Smashwords versions. The book is on ACX but I have had no takers for auditions.
For book three, The Persuasive Man, there are Kindle and paperback versions although I changed paperback format size. There is no Smashwords version.
All books are in English, (UK not USA,Australian, Canadian or other versions) although there are some dialogue elements in other languages. I have looked at creating translated versions via Babelcube and Fiverr, with no success so far.
So instead of writing new books should I take some time to create the missing Smashwords and Paperback versions? I used Lulu for my initial outings. Then I look at the downloads numbers from Smashwords or the sales through Lulu and think it is not worth the effort. Will audio versions be any more successful? Would translated versions be welcomed in non-English speaking parts of the world?
So instead I have written a blog about the decision to be taken. In the end it will come down to mood and how the creative juices are flowing or not. Now it’s time to fire up Scrivener and see where the mood takes me.
It’s nearly three weeks since I launched my latest two attempts at world author domination. Three weeks of trying to stop myself going on Amazon KDP site to see if anyone has noticed that I have not just three but five books out now. Not just noticed of course but purchased a copy. Oh the joy of that first sale! Then waiting for the storming up the sales charts and rankings. Then there would be the interview with local press, perhaps a national newspaper and an interview on Radio 2 as the latest greatest Internet phenomena. I mean do we really need to know about another cat or a baby on YouTube or that some Celeb has done something, potentially breathed or uttered a meaningful syllable.
I have books out pay attention to me!
Shortly after my email and phone would be inundated with demands and offers for publishing rights and of course that film deal. Just a couple more sales and it will happen. Look yesterday three copies were sold, I must be edging up the charts now. I’ll do some more adverts that will generate interest 200,000 views, 2 clicks, no purchases.
My hope is gone faster than an elephant sitting on a helium congratulations balloon. Delve into writers forums – it takes time to build an audience, I have less than you, I’m sure things will pick up the usual supportive platitudes from my fellow writers. Plus the other ones, I only had 4,000 downloads last week I wonder what I am doing wrong!
I’ve emailed and twittered, I’ve added my Goodreads folder comments, no spamming – I hate that. I’ve listed my books on sites, added to web sites and blogs. Told family and friends. I haven’t read the first one yet, I don’t have a Kindle, I’m reading war and peace, I don’t read books. Nothing like support when you need it.
Look another sale! Nearly seven billion people on the planet and I get one sale. Unfair of course on the 99.99999999% of the population who couldn’t care less. I’ll run a promotion, give it away, done that before and… That’s not a sale that’s just a statistic a free download, no reviews not even sure if anyone reads the freebies, they just collect them. Don’t log in again, don’t click on the reports dashboard to find out how many. That graph is infuriating surely it means 100’s or thousands not ones and twos. It must be more than that. Log off. Don’t look. Months of effort, hours of drafting and redrafting. On page 36 you used new instead of knew. Damn, damn, damn, correct, upload new version. Did anyone notice? Why have I found out now? After editing, beta readers, more editing, how can that happen? Is that why no one is buying the book, they try the sample and see new instead of knew glaring at them.
It’s been an hour, I haven’t checked. I can’t check at work, I don’t want to check but the bookmark is right there, I can find out in less than twenty seconds. Someone at work says, “I must give your book a try.” I check the report, nothing.
I can’t very well go and shout at them “I thought you were going to buy my book!”
I check a few hours later, one sale! Was that them, no it’s not in the UK unless they are buying from another ID on another site. I must stop this, I’ll check the reviews instead….
This way lies madness.
I need to write instead. Write something different, something better, don’t use the word knew, edit it another time or three. Spend more on advertising, blog more, comment more, tweet more. That next sales rank is just out of reach just a few more downloads away.
I’d better check the numbers I could have sold a million whilst I was writing this. I’ll check the going rate for that Hollywood deal. Log in, no change.
Repeat – ad-infinitum…