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.
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.
So there we go, the qualifiers have ended and now we know who the final 32 teams will be at the next world cup, held in Russia next summer. The successful teams will be…
- Costa Rica
- Korea Republic
- Saudi Arabia
There are some big guns missing, mainly Italy, USA and the Netherlands, but brilliantly, for me at least, England have made it. As we wait for the World Cup it seems now is a good time to do a promotion, I have not done one for some time. To keep you going while you wait for the World Cup you could read World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition and for this weekend it will be absolutely FREE on Kindle. I would like to do a promotion on the print copy but, unfortunately, that is out of my control (paper costs money you see!). So, you can download World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition from Amazon in the UK here or from Amazon in the US here. It should also be free in all the other countries Amazon operates. The only thing I would really like back is a review, be it good or bad. So here’s to a summer of excellent football and, hopefully, some excellent reading before that!
I final submitted a short story to an online and print based magazine. It is a strange story that is a little sci-fi but not really and a little fantasy but not really. It moves away from character and focuses on implied mysticism. Safe to say that finding an appropriate magazine to submit it to was a challenge. The one I found focused on left field sci-fi. I suppose I really did not expect it to get in so when it was rejected I was not surprised, even when it got rejected for the reasons I thought it would. However, I thought I would be hurt when that happened but I am really not. Maybe it is because I know other people get rejected all the time or the fact that there are more magazines out there I can submit to. It could even be that I know I can independently release it through Smashwords or Kindle and it won’t cost me a penny (although it may also not get read). The thing that did frustrate me, though, is that many places that want short stories like ones that are about people and are a bit quirky. They call it contemporary but I call it things I don’t want to write about! That is why it is so hard to find a place for some of my writing. It is almost a little too mainstream whilst being not mainstream enough. So the search for my place in the market goes on.
I think another area that helps me is that I see myself as a hobbyist author. I have a full-time job and only write because I enjoy it, therefore if writing gets me nowhere it is no skin off my nose. As long as one person reads and likes my stories then I have an audience. Plus I will subject my children to my writing when they are older! So, being a pessimist has not always helped me but I do feel with writing it does. Robin McKinley said ‘Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you.’ I write stories that I want to read so as long as I keep doing that I will be happy.
So what next for my short story? I will submit it to a few more magazines and if it goes nowhere expect it on Smashwords for free in the near future.
It is about half way through the year so I thought I would do an update on where I am with writing, not that it is really interesting. It may seem like I am not releasing much other than the odd poem or piece of flash fiction, probably because that is true. However, despite my apparent lack of writing I am actually working harder than ever to get things ready. Yes work is hectic and yes I do have two small children but I have my phone at my side and a lot of the time it is in my hand so I can edit. This is really starting to annoy my wife who just wants to have a conversation with me! That and the fact I have recently got a Nintendo Switch and Call of the Wild means I am no more than an enigma at the moment!
Right, on to specifics. Firstly, if you did not know already, I have finished editing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ It is now with my beta readers, I have three but they are not professional editors or beta readers for a living so are doing me a favour. They also have busy lives so feedback is coming in slowly. When they have read it and final changes made it will be published through CreateSpace and on Kindle.
The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ is at the editing stage. I am about two-thirds through my first pass and am pretty happy at the moment. My new plan is to finish the editing then send it to a few publishers. When I get the obligatory rejection letters I will go ahead and publish it myself.
I have an idea for a children’s novel too but at the moment I am using all my willpower not to start it. Too many of my projects are half done before I flit onto the next thing. I am determined to get some writing finished so am focusing on editing before moving on. That said I do have ideas for more flash fiction to be included in ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I am holding off on those as well until my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ is complete then I can do a flash fiction or two before going on to stage 2 of editing my novel.
So there you go, I am still writing and I am being productive. With summer holidays coming soon I may even become more productive (although I will be spending most of it with the kids!). Just hang in there, I will be releasing stuff soon enough, I promise.
Two pieces of good news regarding my writing, this using my phone and Google Drive is really helping me to get more words down, you should try it! Anyway, here is the news…
- ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ first draft complete – yes, I have done it. The story that was started in October last year as a 5,000 word short story for Movember is complete, well the first draft is. It is now a little under 40,000 words and has turned into a novella. My next job is to edit it and create a front cover. I have decided that I will put it up for sale for Movember. I intend to make a hard copy using CreateSpace, as well as a Kindle version, and will donate any money I make to Movember. It may not be up for a little while because of good news number two…
- I’m doing NaNoWriMo again – with the use of Google Drive on my phone I feel a lot more
confident about doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I have a really exciting idea about a story, it does involve a lot of research though. I have started the planning process and have more than enough information to write 50,000 words. I have even created a cover for the book already! The story centres around a fourteen year old called Daniel Phillips whose father is in an accident. He gets given an old coin from his father that gives him powers. It turns out that there are others with coins and powers and that they have intervened in historical events. However, there are dark forces out to gain access to the coins. The novel will be for young adults and flips between historical events and present day. It is entitled ‘The Fifth Coin.’ I will keep everyone aware of my progress via twitter.
I’m not sure about you but I am very excited.