Events, Writing

Four Years of Writing

The Well of Tears Banner

4 years. 3 books. 250,000 words. That’s a quarter of a million words! Actually, it’s more than that, but a quarter of a million sounds like a nice healthy number. Do you remember how, as an 11-year-old, you used to groan when the teacher asked for a 200-word essay? 200-words? Pah! I spit in the face of 200 words now!

Those are the numbers behind my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy. I couldn’t tell you how many hours of my life that represents, but if I had to give a rough estimate, I’d say somewhere between 200 and 250 hours per book. And that’s just the writing, editing and proofreading. There’s plenty more time been spent on social media trying to spread the word and pinging off e-mails requesting – OK begging – bloggers to review my books. Then there’s the formatting, re-formatting, wrestling with Microsoft Word and uploading to the Amazon KDP platform. When all this is factored in, along with the time spent dreaming up the plot and jotting it down in electronic notes at random points, I think I can safely assume that this has been a 1000 hour+ project.

Tomorrow sees the publication of the third and final part of the trilogy: The Well of Tears. Readers (honestly, there are a few) will finally get to see how Lorna and Monkey’s story arc plays out and whether they can hold off the threat of those dastardly wardens.

My story has come a long way from the spark of inspiration that led me to create the character of Monkey, the boy who loves to climb. At that point, I didn’t have much more than his love of climbing to fuel the story, but once I added in Lorna and Charles Gooch and a bunch of mysterious objects, the creative juices began to flow.

Now, like a nervous football manager who, having selected his players and drilled them on his tactics before watching them step out onto the pitch to meet their destiny, I have done just about all I can to make my stories the best they can be. Whilst I will take all the plaudits for the good bits and, just as importantly, shoulder the responsibility of any faults in my work, it would be unfair for me not the share some of the blame, err I mean the credit, with others who have played their part. Yes, it’s time once again for the hundred heroes column.

Naturally, I want to thank everybody who has shown an interest in reading my books and especially those who have bought and read one of them, but there are a few people, or groups of people, who deserve a special mention.

First and foremost of these is my youngest daughter, Rachel. From a young age, we’ve known that she is a mathematical genius, but it would appear that the cogs in her brain are particularly well-suited to editing her Dad’s book. Rachel has spent many hours wading through my first and second drafts, and it is to her enormous credit that my final manuscripts are as error-free as they are.

In addition to reading and giving her opinion on the (almost) final draft, my eldest daughter Lauren has used her artistic talents to help turn my eBook covers (created by OliviaProdesign) into paperback versions (more on that in a later post). I’m also grateful for Lauren’s advice on social media.

My friend Darrin has read all three of my books before publication and provided useful feedback on each occasion. More than anybody, Darrin is a useful barometer of whether the ending of a book is good enough!

I’d like to think various online friends from message boards for their kind comments and encouragement: Craig from AmazonExiles on Goodreads and a whole host of people on The Digital Fix Forums.

Chelle on the Curled up with a good book blog was the first blogger to review my books, and I’ll always be grateful for that. She has since reviewed Black Hearts Rising, and was good enough to host the cover reveal for The Well of Tears. As an indie author, it is hard work getting any publicity for your book, and so we all owe Chelle, and other bloggers like her, a debt of gratitude for giving our books a little foothold in the literary world. Thanks also to the bloggers who recently reviewed Monkey Arkwright – you can see their reviews here.

Now, with the convivial backslapping out of the way, all that’s left for me to say is: go and buy my books. Preferably all of them!

Events

The Well of Tears – Announcement

Hello readers! I’m am pleased to announce the release of the final book in my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy, The Well of Tears, which will be available on 29th January 2020, exclusively on Amazon.

If you missed the cover reveal on Curled up with a good book, you can see what Chelle had to say about it here. Many thanks to Chelle for allowing me to share the cover on her blog.

In the meantime, you can feast your eyes on the cover and read the blurb below.

The Well of Tears - Cover

A tale of cryptic messages, treacherous betrayal and a long-hidden family secret brings a thrilling trilogy to its spellbinding conclusion.

The three talismanic masterpieces created over a century ago by the artist, Abernathy, have caused Lorna and Monkey plenty of problems. But things are looking up for the brave and resourceful teenagers. Having tracked down the painting known as The Truth, they now get to discover what Dylan Fogg is hiding in his cellar. But when Lorna is attacked by an unknown assailant desperate to get his hands on the painting, and with Victoria Halfpenny’s betrayal still fresh in her mind, it becomes clear that simply hanging on to the works of art may be a battle in itself.

Meanwhile, Monkey is battling his own demons. Still in denial over the claims of his estranged uncle, Monkey is about to learn the shocking truth concerning his father – and it may be darker than he feared.

With Charles Gooch out of the picture, the Wardens squabble over their next move. Leader Daniel Turnbull is intent on channelling the power of Abernathy’s masterpieces to plunge the world into a dark and uncertain future. But hidden in the shadows, at least one member of the Wardens’ council doesn’t share his leader’s views and plans a bold move of his own – a move that could jeopardise everything Lorna and Monkey have achieved.

Note that you can click here to pre-order the Kindle version now, but if you are old school and would like a hard copy, just hang fire as there will be a paperback version along before the release date.

The reason for the short delay is that I’m just completing a few minor edits pre-release and naturally, I can’t format the paperback until the final version is locked in.

 

 

 

Events, Writing

Book #3 Progress Report – December 2019

writing

Work continues on the editing phase of The Well of Tears, the final part of my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy. It’s taken me five weeks to get through the first edit, and I have to say that I’m really pleased with how the book is shaping up. I found editing my second book a long and exhausting process – nothing to do with the story or characters, more the number of stupid grammatical mistakes that I made in the first, and second, and even third drafts. I remember reading Black Hearts Rising seven times on my Kindle before release, which was far too much. The biggest change for the upcoming book was using Microsoft Word’s “Read Aloud” feature earlier in the process. Although listening to your words read back by a machine (not quite robotic, but hardly Stephen Fry) is tiresome in its own way, it’s amazing how many dumb mistakes you spot. I’ve found that the human brain is a fantastic editor for readers – replacing “or” for “of”, inserting a missing connective or article and even editing out the double “the” – but can sometimes be the enemy of the author. Read your own work and those little errors that will jump out at the reader are sneakily masked by your own meddlesome brain. Getting your computer to read your work aloud is a Godsend, and I now use it at three different points in the editing process: once when I finish writing each chapter; again when I’m reading through the whole manuscript for the first time, and finally during the first edit. Taking this into account, here’s a summary of my writing and editing process, as used on The Well of Tears:-

  1. Plan novel (months of jotting ideas down in an electronic notepad).
  2. Write each chapter.
  3. Run each chapter through Grammarly.
  4. Use Word’s “Read Aloud” feature on each chapter, correcting mistakes.
  5. Pass batches of chapters to my editor (youngest daughter, Rachel) for comments.
  6. Make any necessary changes to chapters, run through Grammarly again.
  7. Combine all chapters into a single document. First draft complete.
  8. Read each chapter on the computer, using Word’s “Read Aloud” feature to read the whole document, correcting mistakes (yes, there were fewer on the second read!). At the same time, make a note of the areas that need attention in terms of plot, character and general descriptions.
  9. Edit the chapters that need attention. Use Word’s “Read Aloud” on updated passages or chapters as required.
  10. Pass completed second draft to Rachel for full read-through.
  11. Edit entire book, correcting mistakes and considering any suggested improvements.
  12. Put on Kindle and read through.
  13. Correct any mistakes (hopefully few and far between at this stage).
  14. Repeat steps 12 and 13 until I don’t spot any mistakes.

I’ve certainly learned a lot about the craft of writing in putting together my trilogy. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding process, but can be tough at times, especially when being an author is essentially a hobby and you still have a full-time job and family life to think of. But I’m getting better at both writing and editing, and all of the hard work so far puts me in a good position to release my new novel early in the new year, probably mid-February.

But writing and editing isn’t the only thing happening around here. I’ve commissioned a cover for The Well of Tears, and once again, Olivia at Oliviaprodesign has come up with a stunning cover. I’ve asked somebody who’s been very supportive of my work if they’d like to feature the cover reveal on their website, and I’m hoping that this will happen soon.

Finally, With the January blog tour for Monkey Arkwright on Rachel’s Random Resources getting ever closer, I’m hoping that it’s going to be a great start to the new year for Lorna and Monkey.

Events

Blog Tour – January 2020

MonkeyArkwright - RRR Blog Tour January 2020

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that this post is titled “Blog Tour”. However, I wanted to kick it off with a short note about progress on book #3, The Well of Tears. I completed the first draft of the manuscript last weekend, which meant that I rattled off the final 10 chapters of the trilogy – that’s 27,000 words – in a mere 19 days! I had planned this sequence of chapters well in advance, and although I changed a few things around near the end, the forward planning allowed me to pretty much write my heart out for nearly 3 weeks, which felt immensely satisfying. Now for 3 months of hard-core editing.

Anyway, onto news of the upcoming blog tour. Much like releasing a new book into the wild, I had a sense of trepidation when I asked Rachel, from Rachel’s Random Resources, to put together a tour for Monkey Arkwright, reasoning that the best marketing for a trilogy is to keep plugging the first part. I’d done a bit of research and read a lot of positive comments on Rachel’s blog tour services, so the trepidation was not so much about the person putting the tour together, but more the fact that there was a minimum number of participants required for the tour to go ahead. It might only be a virtual tour, but much like a band, you need a minimum number of venues – or in this case, host bloggers – to make the tour work. Rachel’s tours require a minimum of 5 bloggers, so once the tour page for Monkey Arkwright went live, I kept the page in my browser and hit refresh every day.

If I remember correctly, the first time I saw the page, it already featured the names of 7 blogs, which meant that I had at least qualified for the tour. This quickly grew to 11, and I can tell you there was a great buzz every 4 or 5 page refreshes when I saw that another blogger or two had joined the tour. I’m delighted to announce that just under a month after the call for bloggers was made, the tour is now full, with all 21 slots filled! You can see a list of the bloggers that will feature Monkey Arkwright, 12 of them providing reviews, the other 9 providing Monkey-related features, here.

The tour will run 10-16 January 2020, which will provide me with some much-needed coverage in the run-up to the release of The Well of Tears, which is pencilled in for February.

Many thanks to Rachel for setting this up, and thanks to all the bloggers who have agreed to take part.

 

Events, Travel

New Project – Rob On Holiday

Anybody who read this week’s Q & A on Curled up with a good book will have seen me talking about my love of family holidays. You may have also noticed my comment about us becoming well-known at a certain hotel in Spain for our comedy holiday videos where we rope in the entertainment team and generally act the goat for the camera.

All of this leads me nicely to announcing a small side-project that was actually my eldest daughter’s idea. Lauren suggested that we re-brand her YouTube channel as “Rob On Holiday”. In addition to the aforementioned comedy videos, we’ve also undertaken a few city breaks in the last 15 months and in each case, we’ve done a fair bit of filming. Generally, this is just to capture our visit for family videos but on a recent visit to Brussels, for the first time, we specifically did a few pieces to camera. Where possible, we’ll be doing a short 5-minute video showcasing what the city has to offer, and an additional video that gives a brief overview of the hotel at which we stayed. Combined with a lot of previous footage, including trips to Disney World, and a few more city breaks in the coming months, we think that we’ll have enough material to make an interesting video channel.

We’ve also created a web site where we’ll include the finer details of various elements shown in the video. This may be a detailed report on some attraction or a city’s transport network or simply a restaurant that we visited. I’m just the figurehead for this website – most of the content will be created by my daughters Lauren and Rachel. You can find the website here:-

https://robonholiday.home.blog/

Just to be clear, this is all for a bit of fun. We are not being paid for any of this, and all views are our own. Hopefully, in addition to making the videos entertaining, we aim to be informative as well. Before we go on any city break, we do our research and this includes watching videos on YouTube. We’ve noticed that many such videos are just raw footage, aren’t edited and don’t give you much on the type of details that you really need to know: e.g. how do I use the transport system.

So, without further ado, here is our first city break video: Brussels:-