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 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:
This is a strange post for me, never have I done one that is so image rich but I want to share a small triumph in my writing. As a hobbyist writer I am pretty tight when it comes to spending money on marketing or editing, this also includes book covers. As an ICT and Computing teacher I utilise what technology I have as well as my knowledge of computers to knock up some pretty basic covers. At present it has been a few filters on a photo, logos designed in Adobe Flash and imported into Photoshop or getting other stock images and making them one solid colour. I spend the most time choosing my font. The covers do not look bad but they are not particularly professional. I decided, therefore, that for ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ I would take a different approach. I would attempt to draw a scene. The only problem being, I can’t draw! However, in my excited state I bounded down to town and headed to The Works (it’s a UK shop that sells books, art supplies and games that are ex-stock and so now cheap!) and bought myself an A3 pad with pencils and a book on how to draw. This then sat on a shelf for about three months. Having completed NaNoWriMo and gone back to ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ to edit it, I finally picked up a pencil. Below are step by step stages of how I did, I am not saying the writing is exciting so feel free to just look at the pretty pictures…
Stage 1 – Basic shapes
I found out quickly that the art book I purchased did not actually give you many tips on drawing fantasy characters so I grabbed my phone and used the Internet instead. As my first proper drawing ever, I decided to take the three main characters and have them facing the reader, looking scared. Action scenes are a little too far for me at the moment. The story is set in a moustache so I wanted them standing above a depiction of one. I drew lines for the moustache and connected these up then used the characters head sizes to work out arm and body lengths. At this point things were going well!
Stage 2 – Body outlines
The next stage was to get the general outlines for the bodies, I was quite impressed with how I did this, using lines to link up shapes. They were actually starting to look like humans! They did all have massive heads though so the rubber supplied with my art set came in very handy! Also I could not get the leg width correct but that did not bother me at present as I could change that later.
Stage 3 – Faces
I cannot draw faces, as is clear from the image to the right! However, these are the best faces I have ever drawn. Again my wonderful drawing book was no help so I looked on the Internet and did a half copy, half reimagining job. I really like Wignut (the one in the middle) but the other two did not come out as well. I decided at this point that I was going for a rustic look so, despite a bit of editing, left them as they are. My wife thought the eyes on Wignut were the weakest but they are actually my favourite, along with his hair. I think it is because they look a little cartoony and that goes better with the ‘I can’t draw very well’ look.
Stage 4 – Wignut’s clothes
Guess what?! Yep, that’s right, the book was absolutely no help with clothes! Again it was an Internet affair, looking at different images of drawn medieval clothes and cobbling something together. But I am happy with them, I particularly like the belt and the way I have made the clothes look a little like fabric by adding lines and making seams billow a little. There is not much detail but it gives the gist. My original plan had been to do basic outlines of the characters and use a fineliner pen to thicken the lines so it was more of a line drawing, but I liked Wignut’s look so decided to just go with the drawings at this point.
Stage 5 – Svetta’s clothes
Svetta, if you have not work out by the fact she is the next one drawn in, is my female protagonist. I wanted her to look pretty but show she is a fighter and a quite good one at that. It was clear I could not draw pretty faces but maybe a nice outfit would make her character look better. Again it was on to the Internet to look at clothes. All the female medieval clothes were flowing dresses with lacey tie ups so I had to look at male warriors clothes and adapt them. Now I was not just looking at the characters outlines I could add some shading to my cover. That was in the art book but it had been so unhelpful up to this point I ignored it! If not as much as Wignut’s clothes, I do like the look of Svetta’s. She is clearly more than a pretty girl.
Stage 6 – Barnabas’ clothes and moustache
I found Barnabas’ clothes the easiest to do, I had learnt from both Wignut and Svetta and as he is the hero’s aid I gave him basic clothes. I was worried how the pack on his back would look so tried not to do anything complicated and draw stitching or have it open with contents spewing forth. I think it works though. I also did the moustache as well, I was worried how to get the texture right but by not using a fineliner pen I could add strokes to it from the pencil I was using. I changed to a thicker pencil do to this. I don’t know why, it just felt right. I had picked a 3B for the rest, who knows why? Not me! Looking at the final picture I was quite happy, yeah the faces could be more detailed and the arms seem a bit long but I had managed to make the legs look better and there is the rustic charm I was after, or rather consolidated myself with. It is the best drawing I have ever done after all!
Stage 7 – PhotoShop
The final stage was the one I was most comfortable with, popping the image into PhotoShop. Firstly I scanned the image then working out what size my book would be and set up the relevant canvas on PhotoShop. Using the magic wand and rubber tools I removed the background as best I could. I did need to clone some areas where there were imperfections from the scanning process as well. After this I found a font I wanted. The most annoying thing about cover design is finding a font that is free for commercial use. I wanted something to go with the hand drawn theme and found Mr. B. It is a little more like pen strokes but I can live with that. A little placement and thinking about a tag line and the cover was taking shape. It is amazing how hard it is to create a tag line for a story about heroes setting out to gather snot from a nose as they live in a moustache. I decided to ignore that and go with the humour of the book instead. After this I tried solid colour backgrounds but none worked, I then went for a pattern which looked even worse. So onto the stock photo sites I went, looking for paper and found the one I have. Again it is free for commercial use. All in all I am pretty happy with it. It won’t win any awards but it looks professional enough, it not up to the standards of Penguin or HarperCollins publishing houses but it will do.
So there we have it, a quick run through of how I made my cover. I could go into more detail but it gets a little dull after a while. So now I need to finish editing the book, which could take a month or more, then create the spine and back cover. Hopefully it will be out some time in the next few months, I wouldn’t hold your breath though!
Euro 2016 starts in less than a week so to celebrate I thought I would do a different type of promotion to those I have usually done. I have made a book free for two days, which is quite easy when they are on Kindle. However, the Extra Time Edition of World Cup Dreams is both on Kindle and in print. So this time I am going to give away two print copies of World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition for FREE. As I have had to purchase the books before sending them on I am going to make you work a little for them. What you need to do is write a poem about football, it could celebrate the Euros coming up or the World Cup. It might be about your favourite club team or a great manager or player. It might even be about grassroots football. The only rules are that it must be original, it must be about football (sometimes called soccer in some countries) and it can be a maximum of 250 words long. To enter you need to fill in the form below. The competition will finish on Friday 3rd June at midnight UK time. I will then pick my two favourite entries (very subjective I know!) and contact them for an address to send the book to. When the competition has ended I will put some of the entries up on this blog (both the winners and other good entries) and will link to the websites/blogs/twitter/facebook of the writers (so you can get a little promotion yourself.). Right then, all there is to say now is good luck and I look forward to seeing the entries.
World Cup Dreams competition entry form