Yes, I have done it. About three years of work and my novella is now published. It is self-published via Amazon, but that is still published. A Close Shave with Destiny started out as a short story that I intended to sell for 99p to get sponsorship for Movember, where you grow a moustache to aid men’s health issues. The story grew beyond that and, rather than taking me a few weeks, took me a few years to write. In fact it became a novella of just over 40,000 words. I decided, therefore, to donate some money to Movember and then sell the book as a piece of work in its own right. So what is A Close Shave with Destiny about? Well, as it was originally for Movember it is set in a moustache. It follows the hero Wignut and his aide Barnabas as they embark on a daring mission, one Wignut is not too happy about. Melstone, a village elder, tells of a prophecy where a deep snow will set in and the world will be scoured by large blades that cut trees and rip up houses. He says that it will happen soon, so Wignut and Barnabas are sent to collect a sticky substance from the Caves of Nosterak so as to glue down the houses in their village and save the villagers. It is basically a comedy fantasy story. Not convinced? Want to know more? Take a look at the sample below from the start of the book…
The wind was fierce tonight, even inside it chilled to the bone. It was as if they had picked the weather especially for the occasion, the howling adding to the sombre atmosphere.
“It is coming,” old Melstone spluttered.
Gasps came from faces that stared at him, they looked into each other’s eyes, fear creeping in. Well, nearly all of them, to Wignut it was like watching a bad play, all that melodrama made him sick. It was just an old man on his deathbed bringing up stories from legend. They never talked about this stuff in the full verve of their lives, always when they were about to die, when they were really afraid. But like so many before, it would be a false alarm.
“I can almost hear the roar now,” Melstone continued.
Wignut zoned out, the story had been told so many times before; the end of the world, the apocalypse, some even called it the harvest. First it would snow, not normal snow, not the odd icey droplet falling through the dense, tall trees that cover this area of land. No, this would be a thicker, sweet smelling, snow that seeped right to the bottom of each tree. People would swim for their lives, some drowning from the intoxicating foam. If you survived that, worse was to come, steel blades were said to scrape across the land, ripping trees from the ground and taking everything else with them. It was the final act, one that would leave nothing alive. Apparently Melstone had lived through the last one, but Wignut found that hard to believe, the legend told of nothing surviving, so how was he still here? That was also why he did not trust the stories, if no one was alive to tell them then how did they come to be? Mums and dads, granddads and grannies trying to scare their children so they would be good and stick to the right path, you could not get that one past Wignut.
He came out of his trance when he heard Dactar, the village chief, asking the soon to be deceased village elder, “and what can we do about it?”
‘Here we go again,’ thought Wignut, ‘another mission for me because of the superstitions and gullibility of this lot.’
Melstone paused dramatically, Wignut let out a large sigh. Eyes shot to him disapprovingly. “Come on,” he said, “he’s putting it on, we go through this every time.”
“Your elder is dying, have some respect,” Dactar replied in harsh tones.
“Do not be harsh on the boy, he is young and foolhardy but he has a part to play,” the elder interjected.
‘Just as I thought,’ Wignut said in his head, ‘crazy mission time.’
“So be it,” the chief said, still looking towards Wignut. He spun his head back to the elder, “please tell us your secrets.”
“There is a place where a sticky substances grows, a substance so strong that it could bond any two objects together. You must gather this substance, apply it to the base of the trees and buildings in this village. When the harvest starts it will not be able to rip the trees from the ground and you will be saved.”
Wignut snorted, eyes darted to him once more, “seriously, he wants us to glue the village down, this is silly.” The stares intensified, lips pursed and anger appeared in every eye. Wignut blew out his cheeks, shook his head and said, “I’ll get my sword.”
Wignut stared at the map, who thought of these names? The Caves of Nosterak, they were making this up, they had to be. He looked along the route once more, it should be easy enough. From the village they would head east through the tranquil forest, things would get a little harder on the outskirts where the mites roamed, but if they were quiet they would be able sneak all the way to the Red Spoticule volcano. It had been dormant for some time so would be quicker to scale than skirting round the base. They would need to head north at the White Fangs, then on to the caves entering either of the two. If they managed to get past the deadly Boogelas, monsters from your darkest nightmares, the sticky liquid was not too far in. A quick jaunt back and they would be home and dry.
Wignut rolled the map up, “doesn’t look too hard.”
“Yes sir, we will be back here before you know it,” Barnabas replied far too enthusiastically. He took the map from Wignut and added it to the pack he had prepared, it bulged at the sides, threatening to tear at the seams.
“Do we really need all that?” Wignut replied.
“Oh, you can never be too careful. We need the map and the weaponry, plus I know how hungry you get, you need all your strength if you are to battle evil forces. I also added a rope and a hook for the climbs, and you never know when you might need some money. Last time we went out the heel of your boots split, so I have included a spare pair. Also a comb to make sure you look your best whilst doing heroic deeds, and a sleeping mat and cover. Oh yes, you couldn’t go without Mr. Snugglebuns.”
Barnabas was helpful but sometimes he mothered. Wignut had not risen to top hero in the village by listening to his mother, mainly because she had died some time ago. Yes an assistant was useful, but sometimes he went too far, plus his persistent optimism was draining.
Realising that Barnabas would collapse under the weight off the pack in two steps, Wignut demanded he removed some items. “My sword is enough of a weapon, it will not be a hard fight, I don’t need all that food, we can sleep under the stars, I prefer my hair to be wild and why would I need Mr. Snugglebuns? I’m not a child.”
He watched as Barnabas removed a mace, three knives, two apples, six rice cakes, a loaf of bread, some cooked meat, the comb, the sleeping mat, the cover and a stuffed bear that had clearly seen better days.
“Thank you,” said Wignut in exasperated tones, “now can we go?”
He helped Barnabas put the pack on and headed for the door, before he got there he turned and looked at the pile of items. With a sense of guilt he said, “well, maybe Mr. Snugglebuns could come.”
You can buy A Close Shave with Destiny on Kindle or in print from Amazon using the links below…
If you buy it and read it then it would be great if you left a review on Amazon, even if you hated it I would like to know.
My comedy fantasy novella, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ is currently in the ‘In Review’ stage at Amazon. In up to 72 hours the print and kindle versions will become available. To help promote this, I would like to set up a blog tour (please note I have never done this before so am probably making tons of mistakes!). I am a hobbyist writer so do not have money to spend on a professional to sort this out, so am really asking for the generosity of the public (along with a free copy of the book!). So here are the details…
What I would like from you
To post an article about ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ on your blog that links to the book in both formats.
What I will give
- Title, text, images and links for the article (to explain who I am, why I wrote the book and what the book is about)
- A date to place the article on your blog
- Tweets to the article from my twitter account (including the #CloseShaveBlogTour hashtag)
- A free copy of the book in either kindle or print version (happy to sign the print version if you want)
- The commitment to participate in your next blog tour
What is ‘A Close Shave with Destiny?’
I suppose you want to know what the story is about before you commit. Well, it is a novella of around 40,000 words that tells the story of Wignut and his aid Barnabus. It is a comedy fantasy novella set in a moustache. Why a moustache you ask? Originally it was to be written as a short story to help get sponsorship for Movember (where you grow a moustache in November to raise money for men’s health causes), but became too large and turned into a novella. I have therefore decided to donate to Movember and sell the novella as a work in its own right. Anyhow, back to the story. Wignut and Barnabus are told of an apocalypse that will rip up houses and trees so and are sent, against Wignut’s will (he is very sceptical), to collect a sticky substance to glue down their houses and save the village. The novella is the resultant mission.
What do you do next?
Thank you to everyone for even looking at this, and many more thanks if you take part.
Some really good news this week, after three years of work my novella, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ is nearly ready for release. The story centres around a hero and his aid who are sent on a mission to collect a sticky substance to glue down their houses when an apocalypse is prophesied. The whole story takes place in a moustache and, as you can probably guess, is a comedy fantasy story.
As writing is not my main job, and I have a family to support, I have not paid an editor so have been going through the manuscript multiple times myself, including using the program ProWritingAid. I now feel the work is the best I can make it, so am in the process of formatting it for release in both print and e-book form via Amazon.
I am not actively looking for beta readers, I have already had someone look at it, but if anyone would like to beta read it I would be grateful. All I can offer in return is a signed copy of the final book and your name in the thanks section.
So, yeah, watch this space. In a few weeks time the book should be available, I really hope people will enjoy it.
Just a quick update about two pieces of work, well one piece of work and an event. I will start with the bad news, once again I will not be taking part in NaNoWriMo. Not out of a lack of time, although it would be tight to get 50,000 words written, but because I have other projects to finish and I told myself I would finish them before starting another. OK, I did start another, creating an RPG, but I’m not going to start another till I have finished some projects I am on now. So, yeah, no NaNoWriMo this year.
Right, on to the novella mentioned in the title. If you have read any of my other posts you may know I am writing a novella set in a moustache called ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ Random, I know, but there is a reason. I started it three years ago as a way to get sponsorship for Movember but it expanded from a short story to a novella so I didn’t release it and will now donate a bit to Movember then just sell the novella as a normal book. Now I am on my last pass through; it is written, has been edited on a computer, run through ProWritingAid and finally I am on to editing a print version. I am almost finished the paper pass, after this it will be time to publish. Usually I would look for beta readers but I have already had someone look at it. That said, if you would like to beta read it then please got in touch. It is a lovely fantasy quest with comic tones, all set in a moustache.
Basically, to sum up, I am not doing NaNoWriMo but my novella will be out soon. Sometimes I think I could sum these blog post up in one tweet! Sorry for waffling!
I often see blog posts and tweets promoting good editing techniques, however a lot of these require money. As a hobbyist write, I want to make my work the best it can be but not by spending a lot. My main job is being a teacher, I am also a husband and father. Writing, though important, sometimes needs to take a back seat. With plenty of things that need money spent on them (food, days out, car, house etc.) I try not to spend money on my hobby when I can do a lot of the work for free. So, to those people in my situation, and any others that want to listen, here is how I edit. Is it a foolproof plan to success and great final drafts? Not by any means, it just makes me feel like my work is the best I can do on my own. Anyway, on with the show…
- Once I have written my first draft I have a read through on-screen, this is basically to see if there are any plot holes or issues I need to address. Sometimes this may be moving chapters/sections around. I generally find I do not have too many issues; as I do not get to write a lot I spend a lot of time thinking about the story, asking questions like, what would the character do in that situation? How can I get the story from a to b without missing key details? What would x look like in that situation? I also plan a lot before writing so have already done a lot of the world building and mapped out major plot points, although the bits in-between can change a lot. Therefore, this part of the editing process often does not require many changes, either that or I am rubbish at seeing plot holes!
- I read through a second time, this time looking for grammar and spelling issues. I can often fix many but a lot slip though the net. Writers are notoriously grammar blind, they read what they wanted in their head and skim over the fact the comma is missing, they have spelt the word incorrectly or have forgotten ed or s at the end of the word. That is where step three comes in…
- Now this is the only place in the whole writing space where I have spent money, and it is not even my hard-earned money! No, every year I get asked what I want for my birthday and every year (well the last two), I have asked for money to renew my subscription to Pro Writing Aid. This year I got enough birthday cash to do a two-year licence so will be able to spend my birthday money on more tat next year! It is only about £30 for a years license. Pro Writing Aid is a program you can download or add as an extension to other word processing programs. You can definitely get it for Microsoft Word but I use it with Google Docs. You can run a range of reports then go through the results to edit your manuscript. Where there is an error, it highlights and you get a choice to ignore or make one of a list of possible changes. There are lots of reports but I tend to look at writing style, grammar, overused words (I never knew how much I use the word was until I got Pro Writing Aid!) and consistency. It can take ages to run a report on a whole manuscript, and then you need to go through every change which takes many hours. I always copy sections of about one A4 page into a different document and run the reports on those then copy them back when done. A simple bit of changing text colours shows me what I have run through Pro Writing Aid, what I am working on and what I have yet to do. I suppose I should say, to be balanced, that there are other editing programs out there, I just really like Pro Writing Aid.
- The next step is the print read through, I often find that I spot different errors when I read my work on paper. I, therefore, arm myself with highlights and a pen and go through a page at a time. It is generally commas that I have missed. I then update my online manuscript as I go so I know that once done I can get into formatting.
- The final step is to get some beta readers, so far I only have one, but that is better than nothing! They read through, give you comments and point out potential mistakes. Once they are done with it I can format the book and get it out there.
What am I missing?
There are only really two steps that I think would make my editing process even better. There are…
- Paying a professional editor – These are rather expensive and I would never see any return on my investment due to not spending money on marketing. I would really have to go for it, moving from a hobbyist to telling myself I am an actual author and throwing my weight behind my claim. I am not confident enough in myself and do not want to bankrupt my family, so am not going down this route. If a publisher came along and offered me a deal then I would happily get a professional editor; I can dream!
- A critique partner/partners – This would be great, to have someone to look at my work and give me advice. The two problems here are that I do not have lots of time to meet up but, worse than that, I do not think I have the time to read other people’s work in a critical capacity, therefore would be letting them down. I have not searched for a critique partner but have thought about it. If someone approached me then I would give it a go, but for now I am happy to just say I wrote a book! Also no-one is telling me my story is rubbish, which it probably is!
Where am I with editing current projects?
Before the two projects I am currently working on, I did not have Pro Writing Aid. Also previous work I have done is either short stories or collections, so I basically read through them twice and looked for errors. Needless to say, there are still errors in the books! Of they two projects I am on, my novella, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ is almost ready to go. I jumped the boat, getting over excited by people seeing my work, so have already sent it to my beta reader who got back to me. This was before I had even used Pro Writing Aid. Therefore, I am doing my final print check then it will be released. My other project, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ has been read through twice and is sitting waiting till I release ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ I will then run it through Pro Writing Aid, do a print read and get some beta readers. An interesting development is that I won a competition for a query letter edit so I may have a good query letter for ‘The Fifth Coin.’ I may actually submit it to publishers! As you can expect, working full-time and having a young family, it takes me ages to edit. I am also writing a serial, ‘Islands of Hope,’ which I update every week on wattpad. This is to show that I am releasing work. Here I read through the section twice and run through Pro Writing Aid. As updates are anywhere from two hundred to a thousand words it does not take long, a sort of editing as you go type affair.
Anyway, there we are. That is how I edit, whilst trying to spend as little money as possible. I hope reading this blog post helps you with your editing. If you have any questions or advice then please do contact me. Cheers!
So here we are, it is New Year’s Eve and I am at home. Not because I am some sort of loser (I am but that is by the by!) but because I have children and all my friends who live near me have children and there is no childcare. On top of that I always feel New Year’s parties are a bit of enforced fun so do not mind missing out, although I will go if I ever get invited!
Anyhow, it is the last day of 2017 and so it is the time to do one of those reviews of the year. Nothing like a good self-indulgent blog post to end the year! So here goes…
A few year ago I noticed that I was not hitting targets set for myself; work and family life are so busy that I never get anything done in the time frame I expect. I decided for one year to say that my target was just to write. That year was last year and was my most effective year of writing. I decided to do the same this year and, guess what? Yeah I have written even more. So much so that I cannot review in just a few built points so I am going to use different headings this time around…
I continued to write poems sporadically in 2017 and place them in my collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’ If you feel inclined you can read all my poems on wattpad. I managed five poems in 2017, the first of which was posted on the first day of the year (don’t expect the same to happen next year i.e. tomorrow!) and is about how my daughter keeps slyly stealing my glasses. It is entitled ‘The Glasses Ninja.’ I really wanted to move away from comic poems and my wife told me that my rhymes are a bit forced so I spent the longest I have ever spent on a poem writing ‘The Tale of the Vitae Plant.’ This poem was written for National Poetry Month and is about a great voyage, I tried to make a rhythm but it did not work so it really does dispense with many literary effects. I tried to evoke the feeling of an old poem set in the 1800s, I hope I achieved that.
With two children now running about parenting was getting difficult in April so I put my frustrations into a poem entitled ‘Parenting (or I love you but please leave me alone for five minutes).’ It is a tongue in cheek look at the stresses of being a parent and just wanting a little time to yourself. For the next poem I tried something a little different, I was trying to emulate Dr. Seuss as I had been reading a lot to my son, I therefore went for a nonsense poem about a farmer, where I created a range of funny animals. The poem is called ‘The Nonsense Farmer.’ The last poem of the year was in September and was released for National Poetry Day. I did not really like the theme of freedom that was given but tried to create something. Everything I thought of felt a little fluffy and unreal so I finally settled on an acrostic poem entitled ‘Freedom’ but linked it to being a slave to technology. I think that it is quite clever by you might not! The poems dried up after September due to another project which I will talk about later.
The First Flash of Hope
I had written a flash fiction story for publication in a free magazine the other year that did not get published. I enjoyed writing a story in only a thousand words so decided I would complete a book of twenty of them. As the first story was sci-fi I thought I would do all of them under the genre of sci-fi. I had made a list of some stories I could do but left it there. The plan was to release it only on Smashwords. However I realised I would never get it done unless I wrote them sporadically and updated slowly on wattpad. So this year I started releasing sci-fi flash fiction under the title of ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ The first was released in February and is the story that I tried to get published in a magazine, it is entitled ‘The Other Side of Mars.’ Even though I have a list of topics, the next flash fiction update, in April, was a new idea that sprung into my head. It is about a person who has a bionic arm fitted only for it to be used to hack information, unbeknown to the lead character. It is called ‘Bionic Hacker.’ The last flash fiction piece of the year was a little bit sillier, it looked at a planet that was ruled by ducks, a bit of a pastiche of Planet of the Apes. However, at the end all is not what it seems. The story is called ‘Planet of the Ducks.’ It was released in June and was the last flash fiction I wrote in 2017, again this was due to the project I will mention later.
A Close Shave with Destiny
If you have followed this blog you will know that I have written a fantasy novella set in a moustache entitled ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ I have been editing it for a long while as I intend to charge for it, releasing it in print and ebook, so want to make it the best I possibly can. This year I have finished two passes of it and got feedback from a beta reader. I am now running the book through my editing program, Pro Writing Aid. Once done it will, finally, be ready to release. I did manage to do something else I was very proud of this year, not only did I create the cover but I actually drew the image on the front. As I am a terrible drawer I am quite impressed with what I produced, you can see it here.
The Fifth Coin
Again, if you have followed this blog you will know that I have been writing a novel called ‘The Fifth Coin.’ This is a young adult novel that I won NaNoWriMo with last year, I did not take part this year due to time constraints. I am at the editing stage and have finished two passes of this but am not focusing on it at the moment, instead I want to continue with the other project and getting ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ released. You may or may not hear more about this next year.
Islands of Hope
The other project I have mentioned is ‘Islands of Hope.’ This came about after talking to a friend who told me of a serial novel he really enjoyed. I thought that by setting myself the challenge of writing something each week and updating it I could at least be releasing some of my work and building up a novel. I have been writing between five hundred and a thousand words each week and editing them using Pro Writing Aid then uploading to wattpad. The novel is a sci-fi one about a dystopian future where a company has taken over most of the world. A girl steals some bread and is taken in by the company then sold on as a slave only to be sold to the revolution. So far it is around thirteen thousand words long but is growing each week. You can read it by going here.
Right, so it appears I actually did quite a lot of writing this year! I suppose I should talk about plans for next year. It seems that the idea of ‘just writing’ works well for me. I will say this though, I hope to publish ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ and hope I continue to keep up the ‘Islands of Hope’ updates. Ok, so that is it, I hope I have not waffled to much. All that is left to say is have a happy new year and a great 2018 and here’s to more successes!
I usually weigh up the amount of time I have and the key ideas I have for a story then decide I can complete NaNoWriMo, even if it means neglecting my family. However this year I have decided to be a bit more pragmatic. I will not being taking part in NaNoWriMo, but not due to time available or lack of ideas. I have come to realise that I cannot keep starting new projects and leave myself with a pile of unfinished and unedited work. This year, instead of starting a new novel, I will be passing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ through ProWritingAid as my final piece of editing for the novella. That should mean that I can get it realised for Christmas or just after. Unfortunately it will not be beta read as my beta readers all lead busy lives and have not managed to have a look at the book. At least, though, it should be one project I can tick off. I will still be writing ‘Islands of Hope’ so expect weekly updates to continue. All in all then, although I am not competing in NaNoWriMo this year, something good will come out of it.