The Latest Progress Report for The Guardian


If you read the lovely Jo Robinson’s post yesterday on getting bored with your current WIP, all is not lost. It might just be that you are nearing the end of the particular WIP, even though you don’t realize it.

What do I mean? Read on…


I’ve finally realized after many sleepless nights and endless hours of thought that my current science fiction WIP – The Guardian in all likelihood will end up as a long short story. In fact, the more I think about it – it’s a given. Each story always dictates its own length. Despite what many may think, the writer often has no say in the matter. Why? Because once we start a story in a specific way, it inevitably guides you towards where it needs to end, regardless of what you want. In other words, the story is in charge, not you.

In this particular instance, one thing and one thing only brought me to this conclusion. The Guardian’s natural fast pace. The very thought of trying to maintain such a pace until I pass the eighty or one hundred and fifty thousand word mark, simply doesn’t bear thinking about. I did that once many years ago to the detriment of my health, never again. Yes I could have written endless pages of totally boring, nauseous descriptive prose and mind numbing dialogue. But that’s not me these days. That’s not the way I write any more. After many years I’ve finally seen the light!

For the handful of individuals who actually bought and read my scifi novella Cataclysm, (published last year) who got in touch with me privately, the one thing that the majority of you communicated was the fact that I kept it uncluttered and fast paced.

Maintaining a blog like mine soon teaches you how to convey what you want to say with the bare minimum of carefully chosen words.

Many writers still prefer to delude themselves into thinking that writing between eighty and one hundred and fifty thousand words is the only way to go. Not necessarily so, especially in this day and age. The times we live in along with reader tastes have dramatically changed in the last ten years or so, in favour of the shorter literary work. Both of the aforementioned are signs which no writer can now afford to ignore.

Think about it, how many times recently have you read a book from beginning to end, only to forget what it was all about by the time you eventually arrived at the last page, or far worse, wound up totally confused from information overload? Even the top one percent of writers hate having to artificially fill a manuscript merely to keep their literary agent, editor and publisher happy.

I recently learned that busy commuters across the world are my main reading group these days. Fifteeen years ago it was my contemporaries. Times definitely change…

As an Indie, I now only have to please myself and the wishes of the modern commuting reader who wants a fast paced story, paired down to the essential nitty gritty, and of course, told well. So now that I’ve finally made the decision, based purely on the way the story is panning out, I’ll be heading towards the first of several possible conclusions. I’ll settle on which one over the next few weeks.

I’ve only ever written one novel (back in 2003) that exceeded one hundred and fifty thousand words. The fact that writing it led to my suffering a total mental breakdown brought on by the stress of it all, which damn near ended me, should be a salutary lesson for anyone contemplating writing such a lengthy work.

The novel in question became my first published work back in 2010. It was a science fiction space opera entitled Onet’s Tale. While it still appears on Amazon, it is no longer available. Besides my paperback ‘author’ copy, and my Kindle one, I still have it as an unedited .pdf file for anyone who wants to read it. If you want an unbiased view about it, ask Chris The Storyreading Ape what he thought. He read the .pdf version.

I’m not an old stick in the mud. I do take notice of trends. Now I’d better get back to it. If anyone thinks that writing is easy, tell them to just try pairing down a story to its absolute essentials as I did with Cataclysmย last year, and am currently doing with The Guardian, to suit a specific emerging eBook market – the busy commuter. The things we do for our readers eh?

PS – because it will be a long short story, when the time comes I’ll price it at a mere US$0.99. If Amazon allowed it, I would like it to be even cheaper. But unfortunately Amazon doesn’t do Permafree.

Be good…


Give A New Book A Chance


As Indie writers, no matter how you’re previous works have been received, we all know that publishing a new book is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette. In other words it’s pure luck if it survives, let alone becomes a best seller. It doesn’t help whenever a new book is soon consigned to the equivalent of oblivion in the book rankings due to low initial sales.

My latest novella is a classic case in point. Since Cataclysm went live on Amazon’s Worldwide network on the third of this month, I have closely watched its position in the rankings. At the time of writing this it currently occupies the 93,815th spot in the Paid in Kindle Store list on, and 189,924th in the Paid in Kindle Store list on For it to stand a chance it needs to occupy a place in the Top One Hundred Paid list!

While most writers, myself included, are usually not bothered by where their book sits in the ranking system used by Amazon, reality dictates that without help a new book automatically struggles to be seen among the millions of others. It doesn’t help its chances when Amazon has no new book listing. They should take a leaf out of AuthorsDen’s book. At least they show a new book for a few days on their main page.

This is why I have had to relent from my original stance regarding making Cataclysm available for free download. The giveaway period begins tomorrow, Wednesday 12th until Friday 14th. Even though it already has three reviews, sales are negligible. So how about giving a new book a chance folks by getting a copy, free or paid, from your nearest Amazon outlet. More importantly, post a fair review to counteract the inevitable one star variety that will soon appear, once the trolls etal get their hands on their own free copy.


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More Thoughts on Writing


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.