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.
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!
It is with sadness that we see the end of the World Cup. Well done to France on winning and Croatia for putting up a good fight. I am also really impressed with my own team, England. They far outperformed expectations and Gareth Southgate has shown what a generally good bloke he is. We now have a platform to build on, so here’s looking forward to Euro 2020 in…erm….wait….how many countries?
Anyhow, as you know, as a writer I like to jump on the bandwagon of big events and use them to promote my work. So, as the World Cup has ended and the new league season is about three weeks away, you can tide yourself over by reading ‘World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition.’ To make that more of a reality I am doing another promotion on the kindle version. From today until the end of Saturday the e-book version is free from Amazon (in fact it is on Kindle Unlimited so if you have that it’s free anyway!). Below are links to the UK and US Amazon stores. If you read the book then please could you leave a review, either good or bad? I know that are some spelling and grammar mistakes, my editing process was not as tight as it is now when I released the book. Anyway, enjoy, and here’s to another great season of Premier League football, or if you support a team like I do then another mediocre midtable finish in the Championship!
Get World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition from Amazon UK here.
Get World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition from Amazon US here.
I said I would do more vlogs about World Cup Dreams as we head towards the World Cup in Russia. It is now less than two weeks away and we are deep into friendlies and final team announcements in preparation for the event. So to promote my book and help you prepare for the World Cup, here is my second vlog about World Cup Dreams. This time I am reading the flash fiction ‘Too many clichés?’ Remember that World Cup Dreams was a challenge I set myself during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I decided to write a flash fiction or poem for every day of the World Cup. You can watch my reading below, under the video are links to the free and paid for versions of the book…
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/461431
Extra Time Edition:
Recently I have been borrowing, what my son calls, chapter books from the library at the school I work in. The librarian has noticed this and decided to lend me a newly bought book that has yet to be categorised and placed in the library in return for an honest review. My eyes lit up and my brain said, blog post. So here it is, my review of Vulgar the Viking and the Rock Cake Raiders by Odin Redbeard and Sarah Horne (oh, I should say that there are some spoilers in there!)…
I was a little disappointed by the first chapter, it almost seemed like a book for older children. My son is four but he can get the general gist of books for eight to ten-year olds. It may be a strange thing to say, but I felt there were too many technical viking words. Yes it is about vikings, but I felt you needed to have some knowledge of them to access the book. However, chapter 2 onwards seemed to move quickly into writing that was fit for the age range. Along with the quick pace of the story came the silly jokes and gross situations, including juggling elk poo and eating bogeys. That good stuff that makes kids laugh and amuses adults, even though they do not want to admit it. From here it became sillier and sillier, however, what I liked is that it joked about this, it revelled in observational comedy. It was almost as if the characters were asking the questions you wanted to as a reader. For instance, when King Olaf tells the kids a story about how he survived at sea with no food or drink, he says he ate bogeys and drank seagulls blood, then one of the children asks why he did not just eat the seagulls (which is what I was thinking!). Another thing that got me into the story, but was maybe over my four-year old’s head, was that fact we were looking at modern vikings. It was set in the ‘olden days’ but the vikings had shops, a village and did not plunder or loot, Vulgar’s Dad even cleaned toilets for a living. The comedy comes from the fact that the vikings were now ‘civilsed.’ The whole situation in the book stems from the point that Vulgar wants to be a real, old-fashioned, viking. This leads to the three main characters making a boat to cross the village pond and stealing some cakes. It is such a preposterous plot that it is perfect for a children’s book. I actually laughed out loud when the three kids escaped the mob in their barrel boat only to be caught on the other side as the mob just walked around the pond.
Two other children’s books I have been impressed with are Wilf the Worrier and King Flashypants. I have likened these to Monty Python for children. I think that Vulgar the Viking is another book that can fit into this category. Maybe then, this is the state of children’s literature today. Have they finally caught on to alternative comedy much like adults got in the 1970s. Maybe it is the people who grew up with Monty Python that are now putting their ideas into children’s books. I for one am glad if it means we get such funny stories as those mentioned above. The one thing that annoys me, though, is that I have heard many people say these types of books are good for reluctant readers as if they are just silly and that is all. These books are actually well written and great for all readers, they are silly and make you laugh but most importantly they are entertaining. So, I for one endorse Vulgar the Viking and the Rock Cake Raiders and am satisfied to say that it adds to a growing list of what I call ‘proper comedy books for children’.
I really am fed up of editing, at the moment I check my stories myself at least twice, run them through Pro Writing Aid and sometimes get beta readers. That means it takes a long time to get anything ready. As I am a hobbyist writer I cannot afford an editor so it is up to me to do the best I can. I really just want to release my work. To alleviate this frustration I have started a new project entitled ‘Islands of Hope.’ I have had a brief idea for a story in my head for some time but have ignored it due to all my other projects. I am determined to stop flitting from one story to the next and actually get one finished!
Talking to a friend recently I had a great idea, why not release a book as a serial. If I commit to adding to it each week I can edit as I go. It is also exciting because in the world of writing I am a planster but I am going to approach this project as a pantster and just see where it goes. I am not going to give a specific amount I will upload each week just that I will put something up. Using wattpad will allow me to do this and I will notify everyone via twitter, Facebook and on this blog.
So before I go further I suppose I should give you a brief synopsis…
The year is 2145 and the Earth is largely controlled by Princips Ltd who have monopolised by slowly buying up different companies. The rich now live in mega cities whilst the poor dwell in slums. Countries have been reassigned as numbers and there are only a few independent states left. The one thing you do not do is cross Princips Ltd, break the law and you can be jailed or even killed. When Kira steals some bread for her starving mother she is caught and put up for slavery. Her new master is known for being brutal but reputations are not always what they seem, especially when you are taken to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, a far cry from the deprivation of the slums or bright lights of the city.
So there it is, not particularly original but should be a lot of fun. The first chapter is now up on wattpad and I will be updating something (maybe a whole chapter, maybe just a paragraph or two) every Saturday. You will also notice there is no cover, haven’t got around to that yet but it will come.
My only real concern about the project is that it will distract from my other writing and getting a full novel released with take even longer. Oh well, at least it will appease me for a bit. Keep checking back on Saturdays for updates. Oh yeah, you can read it by going here.