Oh what might have been…

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Back in 2003 while I was briefly back in New Zealand, I stayed with my best friend Graeme Norgren and his family. Each day while they were both at work, I decided to write a sequel to the first book I ever wrote back in 1995 – Turning Point. And so the two-part space opera Onet’s Tale was born. Here are some of it’s reviews:

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Imagine slaving in a mine on a distant planet, where each swing of your pick throws poisonous dust into the air that will kill you in a few months time from breathing it. This is where “Onet’s Tale” opens, but it doesn’t stay there long. This epic sci-fi tale from Jack Eason includes a large cast of characters from various planets, including the human/nephile Akhen and Khan, who is a Drana. Once enemies, the two band together to escape the mine and start a rebellion that eventually leads to a war that spans years and galaxies.

The story itself is narrated by Onet, who happens to be a Khaz. Think little gray alien guy that might land in Area 51. Except Onet is albino and has red eyes. He’s watching all this unfold, waiting for his chance to stop the evil that his own kind started, which spread through a goddess-type being called Shu, and continued through her horrible creations of berserker warriors.

Murder, war, and mayhem reign throughout this book, while the main characters try very hard to live normal lives. Their efforts are always ripped out from under them, and I sympathized with the tortuous events they lived through. On the other hand, I kept wishing for more character depth. I’m really partial to character-driven novels, and this one seems mostly plot-driven. For me, I would have liked to have been inside the characters’ heads more, really feeling what they feel.

If you like sci-fi packed with battles, futuristic weapons and modes of transport, you’ll like “Onet’s Tale”.

 

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To say that this epic saga / odyssey contained in just one book is breathtaking in its scope would be an understatement! It could easily have been done in two parts, which, combined with a previous book, would have made a fine Trilogy.

Beginning 800 years after the events of the authors earlier book, ‘Turning Point’, the story starts with an ancient Dranaa escape pod arriving in the Dranaa Empire territorial space.

The reader soon discovers that even after 800 years, descendants of the victorious human/nephile survivors of the battles with the Dranaa on Earth, are still engaged in war with the Dranaa – and things are not going too well for them.

Although labelled as Science Fiction, the story also contains some Conan the Barbarian / Xena the Warrior Princess type characters whose technology / evolution is so advanced it seems like they have magical powers.

For those who like Action, there are battles aplenty, in space and hand to hand. Did I enjoy it? Emphatically Yes!

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Wow! Hang on tight for a roller coaster ride. This novel moves at such a fast pace it’s like you’re on one of the spaceships. There is so much in it, it could easily have been expanded to three trilogies! The story line is great, and the characters good though lacking a bit in definition. As always in these types of stories I find it hard to remember who everyone is from the unusual names. Where there is detail, it is fantastic, but I would have liked a lot lot more.

A New Journey on June 29, 2010
Onet’s tale truly takes you into a new journey of adventure new characters and keeps you wanting to read more and more. I recommend this novel to any Sci-Fi reader who enjoys good story telling and wants to get lost in new worlds and exploration. The Author did an amazing job in creating a new adventure for all of us to enjoy.
”A triumph of modern science fiction. A wonderful story of Fantasy anchored by Science”.
This is the first work by Jack Eason to be published and yet this book has the feel of a seasoned Author. The consideration and detail in which Onet’s tale is written never allows the reader to wonder about anything for too long. Every plot twist, each character and every action they take is just one small brush stroke of a much larger painting. All actions have consequences and all consequences are vital to the story. The web of intrigue, spun so subtly by the Author, unravels with each turn of the page. The bigger picture only begins to come into focus when all the other pieces are in place.
I find it very difficult to say exactly what Onet’s Tale is about, because it isn’t solely about one thing. The story has many leading characters and many different reasons why each would be where they are and why they are a part of the story. I could condense the entire story to just a few words..”A tale about the struggle for survival against all odds”..but this doesn’t do it justice.
The battle for survival isn’t confined to just one person, nor even to an entire species. It encompasses all life in both this world and in many others that wish to live without fear and oppression. A species that come from further away than most can imagine are hell bent on the complete annihilation of all others, forsaking none. The ensuing struggle spans the face of our galaxy and the lives of each and every living being within it.
The fate of future history is in the hands of a reluctant few. Out numbered and out gunned, the battle begins.
This is grand tale. The tone is that of a storyteller recounting the past. There are a host of characters caught up in intrigue, action and a fascinating story that spans worlds. A struggle against all odds in an epic battle for survival. An excellent read.

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Once I had returned here to the UK at the end of 2003, my personal circumstances took a turn for the worse when I had a complete mental breakdown, resulting in me sleeping rough on the streets for a few months. After getting the psychological help I needed, I was eventually placed in a homeless hostel in Lowestoft, nine miles to the east of where I now live in my home town of Beccles in the English county of Suffolk.

It was to be seven years of searching and constantly being turned down before I eventually found a publisher.

Thereby hangs a tale. The small publisher I dealt with is a one man band, who fancies he is an editor. Had he been any damned good, I’d still be with him. In reality he is, or was, a senior executive for a large computer company. Like many in our game who set themselves up as a small press owner, after failing as a writer, he is on an ego trip.

My good friend and fellow writer Derek Haines knew and warned me about him. But in my still fragile mental state, I was desperate for Onet to be published and signed the contract. It was the worst decision I ever made!

I won’t go into any details, except to say that after putting up with being constantly dictated to by a martinet, we eventually parted company. To be rid of him once and for all, as part of the deal to leave I agreed that Onet’s Tale be immediately withdrawn from the market. Judging by the above reviews, chances are it might have been a best seller. But my sanity came first!

The problem was that in his capacity as my then editor he always insisted he knew best. Going against my express wishes he added a ‘curriculum vitae’ of all the characters for both parts of the space opera. It was as if he considered the readers could not possibly work out who is who for goodness sake.

Then to add insult to injury, on the e-book version he added his and his former business partner’s names as co-authors. That was the last straw as far as I was concerned!

So a hard lesson was learned. Never allow any editor to dictate to you or control your story, especially a wannabe editor!

~~~

While I’m not about to try to republish it in the market place, for the simple reason that I have no doubt whatosever that he would sue me. Instead, what I intend to do is to serialise it here on my blog, once I’ve finished working on the third edition of Goblin Tales that is.

Which reminds me, I’ve seen the rough sketch Duncan Boswell is using as a basis for the finished family portrait. Here it is:

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Well I’d better get back to Glob and co. Otherwise two ladies I know, Adele and Kate, will have my hide. I’m working as fast as I can ladies, really I am…

😉

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Definitely a wood for the trees moment?

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This post follows on from the other day – https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/a-message-to-the-slackers/ where one of the commenters (Ken Thackerey) questioned my thoughts on reviews being the author’s only real means of knowing how many people actually read a free copy of a book. He got me thinking further on the subject.

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Why do some books become best sellers? Is it the fact that the author promoted their book, hoping for sales, by initially giving it away once it was published? Perhaps it’s because the author publicised it on every book and social media site, not to mention their blog? Could it be because the author let it sit for a while in preorder mode, prior to publication? Maybe its the cover? Maybe its the fact that it was edited by a professional, or that a lot of money was spent having it promoted? Each one of them is standard practice, and yes they all help. But only up to a point. Might it have anything to do with genre? Not necessarily.

Then the penny finally dropped. It’s none of them or any combination you care to come up with. I’ll tell you why some books succeed while the rest don’t. It’s only taken me twenty years to finally figure it out. Call it a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees if you like. It’s blindingly obvious once you see it. The answer was staring me in the face all the time from the books in my library. It’s in yours too.

In this day and age, no matter the genre, or how much time and effort you put into bringing that story to life to make it stand out from the crowd, what any book needs is reviews. It doesn’t matter how good the story might be. Nor does it matter how eye-catching the cover is, or how much money was spent on having it promoted. To become popular, and therefore by osmosis, to be considered a best seller, if it doesn’t have glowing reviews prior to publishing, quite simply you are wasting your time. I’m not talking about those written by the general public after a book is published. Instead I’m talking about presale reviews.

Look at the cover of any book coming out of any traditional publishing house. Whether the author is a known quantity or a newcomer, all trad publishers ensure that each book they put out receives a smattering of excellent reviews prior to publishing, one or two on the front cover. Others inside after the title page, and maybe one on the back cover along with the author’s bio. It’s simplicity itself when you think about it.

What about Indies? Does this apply to them as well? Emphatically yes. I known what I’ll be doing with my next novella or novel before I publish it. Oh, and no more free samples…

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As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

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Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding endless errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant!

Before any editor reading this has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned over a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead.

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

Quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English there is also the original, English English, together with Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us.

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

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Answer Me This If You Can

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Editor at work – Yeh right!

For as long as I’ve been writing full time (nineteen years), one aspect of our chosen career path has always bothered me.

We all know that writers in publishing house stables are expected to apply all the corrections that their editors have found. Why should Indies suffer this totally illogical practice as well? For many, myself included, we parted company with traditional publishing to get away from this less than satisfactory aspect of the writing game, and the often dictatorial way in which publishers rule over their writers, amongst other things.

I’ve given up counting the number of times I’ve heard fellow Indie’s complain about their editors, and the hard won money they’ve spent on their sometimes dubious services.

If you take the sensible decision to go it alone and self edit, you find the errors and correct them. Whereas if you pay for an editor’s services, while they give the impression of doing a ‘professional’ job, what do they actually do for their often exhorbitant fee? I’ll tell you. Not enough! They only do half a job, then send it back to you to do the rest. What’s the point? A writer can do all of that themselves and for no cost to them except time.

Yes your editor will tell you that they have judiciously gone through your manuscript, purportedly working their way through your story word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, picking up on bad grammar, spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, plus suggesting you change this or that aspect of your story as if it was them who wrote the darned story, so that when pedants, armchair critics and literary snobs challenge you (and believe me they will), you can honestly say that your work was professionally edited.

Big deal!

Logic dictates that if someone is employing you as an editor to find all of the errors, that once found, you should correct them, not send the manuscript back to the writer to do your job for you! Otherwise, what’s the point of employing you in the first place. If a writer does the sensible thing and sends their manuscript to a few dedicated beta readers, hopefully they will point out any and all errors for free!

Remember this, no book is ever perfect. Even the very best editors employed by the major publishing houses will miss the minutiae, after all they are human just like the rest of us. Paying for an editor’s services, as they stand at the moment, is a waste of money. Before you even begin to show a profit from the sales of your books, you have to recoup your financial outlay first, ie, editing, layout, cover design. From a financial point of view its far better that you do it all yourself. Thinking about it, so-called professional editors are little more than professional pedants.

If you are a truly dedicated Indie writer, don’t think that once you have written your manuscript that you have finished. You haven’t. Your work has only just begun. Above all don’t fall into the trap that your manuscript need the services of a paid ‘professional’ editor. It doesn’t. If you are any damned good, you will do it yourself!

End of lesson…

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Progress Report 12

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Thank God! I’ve finally finished doing the major edit of the first seven chapters. Yes I did say seven. As I predicted in the previous progress report, I ended up amalgamating two short chapters into one, as well as adding just over five hundred extra words, which means that the word count now stands at 19,792.

During the previous four a half days of total concentration on my part, a thought occurred to me. Why in the name of everything we hold dear as writers would any of us wish to become a full-time editor? It’s bad enought doing it for a few days. But to do it for a living? I don’t think so. Anyone contemplating it as a career, is either totally insane, or they are some kind of control freak on a power or ego trip, or maybe both, who loves the idea of tearing the product of someone’s hard work to shreds. Perhaps secretly they get their rocks off by inflicting doubt and angst in the minds of the unsuspecting writer in their clutches. Maybe editors are recruited from the ranks of trolls, pedants and armchair critics. Who knows?

Anyway, enough of that. Now its on to the next chapter and episode in the story. After I’ve had lunch and taken a much needed break to ready myself…

More later.

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More Thoughts on Writing

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It’s sunday here in the UK, so I am having a day off from working on my latest WIP.

Many writers swear by the notion that when you are creating that first draft, what matters is a word count in its thousands. That’s fine if you are a member of an establishment publisher’s writing stable, where all you are required to do is produce that first draft, warts and all, before passing it on to one of the publisher’s inhouse editors, who will then make suggestions based on their own views of how your story should read; often veering away from your own idea.

If you have been following my blog, you know my views on that particular subject. For those of you who are new to my blog, I divorced myself from just such a controlling arrangement back in 2010. As far as I’m concerned it was the second best move I ever made. The first was to pluck up the courage to write full time in the first place.

Remember this folks, if you are an Indie, you don’t have anyone like an editor trying to make you conform to their employer’s wishes, or a literary agent telling you that what your writing is not financially profitable from any of the big five publishing houses points of view. Or that unless you conform it will only appeal to a niche market at best. In their view, you don’t count except for the fact that your hardwork is a means to an end for them. All that matters is their annual profits. How mercinary can you be?

These days when I’m engaged in writing my first draft, I far prefer to write no more than five hundred words plus or minus a few (approximately the length of this post). Why is that I hear you ask? As I am a successful fully committed Indie who does not employ an editor, I find it much easier to continually edit as I go along. That is just one of the tricks I’ve learned since becoming an Indie. So in effect, given the way I prefer to work, I am not working on a first draft at all am I. As for grammar and punctuation, you soon learn.

If you are an Indie, it means you have total control over what you write and how you write it. Being an Indie means that you become an editor amongst other things. Some don’t have the courage to do their own editing, incorrectly believing all the hype out there that writers should only write and are incapable of editing, let alone formatting. In the beginning I even produced my own covers. Not for this one. At the moment I’m waiting to see what The Story Reading Ape comes up with from the brief I gave him. Like most writers I know, once I have entered writing mode, everything else is forgotten. Sometimes I even forget to eat, or even what day it is. I get the hint regarding sleep when my eyes start to close.

One final point. If you are an avid reader who has always dreamt of becoming a writer – go for it! At the beginning you will be terrified, I know I was. But you will soon overcome your initial fears. But remember this, unless your book is brilliant, the chances are that you will be working for change like the rest of us, particularly if you price your eBook or paperback at the lower end of the scale to encourage readers to read something of yours. Thirty five percent royalties is the norm these days. Do the sums – thirty five percent of US $0.99c isn’t much. So your sales will need to be in the hundreds of thousands to make a reasonable living. Most of us in the midlist category consider ourselves lucky if we make between US$2,000 – $5,000 pa. We certainly don’t write to get rich. Instead we do it for the love of writing itself.

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Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge

I totally agree with what Horace says. How about you?

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge.