Wednesday, 22 November 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 12: "NaNoWriMo 2017 - Day 22"

The finish line is in sight but there is still work to do.


DAY SIXTEEN - 8114 words

An early start today. Up at 5:00 and a couple of thousand words done before starting work. After two days of writing an epic superhero/super-villain smack down, it was nice to chill and get into my characters head a little, find out how he's coping with things.

This scene carried me over the 40,000 mark. That should have been enough. I hit my word count and finished a scene. Then things escalted

I spotted how close I was to my 2017 record daily word count of 4000. So on my lunch break I wrote a bit more. But then I saw how close I was to my 2014 record daily word count of 5833, so that evening I didn't watch a movie or play on the Xbox. I wrote. And then I was so close to my 2007 and 'all time personal best daily word count' of 7941 words (that was a night that ended at 3am) that I stuck on a Donald Trump documentary and carried on until, well until my fingers fell off.

I'm very stat driven (you've seen the spreadsheets) and it's this that can keep me going when it shouldn't be possible. I'm not the fastest writer in November, but every now and then I manage to do something awesome at this time of year, so I kick pessimist me to the curb and give my self a little pat on the back. This was one such day.

It also meant that, with 14 days still remaining, I only had 3463 words to reach the finish line. This may go down as my best NaNoWriMo yet.



DAY SEVENTEEN - 3484 words

I was expecting to hit 50,000 around the 20th, but due to the previous days write-a-thon it happened on the 17th. To say it was difficult to contain my excitement would be an understatement. I was so thrilled to hit 50K so early in the month, a personal best for me. And there's still much more to go after the days attack on a jungle drug compound (yes, this story will be mental). The battle scene ended perfectly on 50,001 so I called it a day with Chapter 22 coming up next.



DAY EIGHTEEN - 2023 words

After two days of monster writing, the weekend hit hard and returned me to normal word counts. After the drug compound battle of the last chapter, this was all about bringing the main character back to his day-to-day life; returning to work, spending time with his girlfriend. Normal stuff. I'm still pushing on because the ideas are all still rolling out. A worry I sometimes have is crossing the finish line cutting the enthusiasm. But I'm doing well.



DAY NINETEEN - 2044 words

Another weekend day, but when the wife took our son out for an afternoon walk, I took it as writing time and immediately jumped onto the laptop. I managed about 1700 before they got back, and fit a further 300 in after dinner.



DAY TWENTY - 2302 words

Back to normal today as I opened up another action scene. The fights that the main character goes through are all based on iconic superhero movies, and this scene is similar to one from The Dark Knight. It's a more thinking mans action scene, unlike the previous bust ups.I managed 1700 and called it a day, but then had a burst of 600 around 10pm to keep my average high.



DAY TWENTY-ONE - 2674 words

After the fight the previous day, day 21 was all about the consequences. The main character starts doubting himself and the dual life he's trying to live, and it's up to those closest to him to pull him from the slump. After all, the world could be in danger (spoiler, it's about to be) and need a hero.



DAY TWENTY-TWO - 2169 words

And so the beginning of the end is at hand. Our hero has been presented with a bigger threat than terrorists, street criminals, and super powered villains. An alien threat is coming. Our hero has faced some big challenges up to this point, but the literal fate of the planet could be in his hands. And he hasn't even dealt with his biggest enemy, who wants to destroy the entire universe (because, you know, one problem at a time). With time running out, and our hero trapped on the moon (I told you this was going to be a weird book) how will this story end? Guess I'll start working that out tomorrow, as my planning only got this far. Should be interesting.



And in extra awesome news, as this week wraps up, I've crossed 60,000 words and am on target to beat my personal best (2016 UTOPIA FOR PEARS - 64,034 words). My life is at a  bit of a low at the moment so this is really pulling me along and keeping me going. I'm pushing myself hard and breaking a lot of personal records and loving every minute of it.

In other extra awesome news, Steph Ellis (one of the master minds of The Infernal Clock projects) has also joined me at the NaNo pub that is 'The Validated Writer'. We're getting our drinks in and watching out for the other FlashDogs who are closing in. A couple of first timers on my writer buddies list and their doing super well. Virtual drinks ordered for you peeps, waiting at the bar. 

So with just over a week left how is everyone else doing? Ready to validate? On target? Or crazy enough to plan a word blitz with two days to go. Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @BrianSCreek

The finish line can be crossed if you really want to. In 2007 I was 13,000 words behind with 3 days to go . . . and I managed it without needing to write on the last day. 

Keep on writing. 

See you in seven.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 11: "NaNoWriMo 2017 - Day 15"

Half way through the month. How exciting


DAY NINE - 3535 words

I love days like this one. It started slow and I was thinking that I wouldn't make it past the 1667. As I was closing out my writing for the day  I thought I'd just set up the next chapter so it was easier to begin day 10. And then I couldn't stop typing. I was having brain waves and wanted to get them down  quick before I forgot them. I was trying to type faster then I physically could; my fingers hurt by the time it was over.

And then I'd check my word count and see I was 60 words from a milestone so I;'d add a little more. But then I was close to another milestone, and I kept that up until I was more than double my daily target.

Good day. Lots done.



DAY TEN - 2100 words

Managed a quick sprint on the train journey and made it to within 700 words of the 25,000 half way point. That's the quickest I've gotten to half the November word count target. I'm hoping that I can keep the pace up, hit 50k by the 20th, and make 75k my finale (personal) record breaking total. Lets hope.



DAY ELEVEN - 2091 words

I mentioned that last weekend was a surprise result for me as weekends are usually tough to find a decent window. Well the 11th was weekend business as usual. It was the first day this month where I had zero word count in the books before noon. A trip out with the wife and child meant I didn't get behind the keyboard until 4:30pm, and formula 1 in the evening meant I had to make a small window count. Thanks to an action scene that plays homage to a 2006 action superhero movie, I managed to just cross 2000 before calling it a day (night).


DAY TWELVE - 1815 words

Typing away late this day, due to a birthday party and the penultimate race in the F1 calendar. Luckily I managed about 800 words while sat watching my son play at Monkey Bizness, and the rest once he was in bed. I left the scene hanging as I ran out of time and wanted to hit the ground running when I was back on track the next day. 

This scene was mostly tying up the previous and then finally hitting the big plot point behind the whole story. 


DAY THIRTEEN - 3384 words

After a leaner weekend than I wanted (though it was expected), I bounced back today with another count crossing 3000. This was helped by a scene where the background of two major characters were revealed and, in a strange moment around the 2500 mark, I suddenly decided that a good twist was needed and felt right. So while the hero was talking to another main character for 2500 words, I flipped it, and made out that it was the villain the whole time. Then the other character turned up and a fight ensued.

None of this was in my loose plan. It simply said 'Character B has spent millennium trying to kill Character A'. I had no idea why they hated each other or where they came from. And the twist. I made it up after I written a massive flashback scene. 

It's one of the things I love about the recklessness of NaNoWriMo. Everything is doable, and nothing is off the table.



DAY FOURTEEN - 2714 words

An impromptu trip to A&E for my son (he's fine) almost derailed me, but waiting rooms are a good opportunity to whip out the old phone and chuck a load of words into a Google Doc. Today was all about an epic fight, one much bigger than  the last. The main characters first real challenge. In fact the scene was so big, I didn't finish it even with over 2500 words done, so I'll hit the ground running for day 15 and the half way point of November.



DAY FIFTEEN - 2177 words

The epic fight continues. I had a few moments planned before I started it (a helicopter meets an 'explosive' ending, and a cruise ship isn't left very seaworthy) buit stringing it together was touch. Fight scenes can be difficult, especially in first drafts. There's a lot to keep track of with characters moving around and scenery getting chewed up. No doubt during the January reread before edits start, I'll spot a lot of continuity errors.

And that's another week out of the way. I'm still over the moon with my progress so far, and confident with how much is still left in my imagination to put on the page. I'm setting all kinds of personal records, and this might be the first year I upload my 50,000+ on the day validation goes LIVE. Fingers crossed.

How are you guys doing? Are your stories going as planned, or have crazy things and new characters made an effort to derail (or improve)? Share your stand out moments from the first half of NaNo in the comments below, or on twitter (@BrianSCreek).

It's all go for the second half now, as November 30th and 50,000 closes in. Good luck tyo all participants. Keep writing.

See you in seven.




Wednesday, 8 November 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 10: "NaNoWriMo 2017 - Day 8"

First week of NaNoWriMo is out the way and SuperGod is coming along nicely. 

Have managed to pick up where I left off last year with my writing ethos (wish I was this constant through the other eleven months of the year) and I am putting good word counts in. SO good are these daily word counts that my opening aim to cross 10,000 by Monday 6th was smashed when I somehow managed it by Saturday lunchtime. 


As I mentioned before, a lot of this early writing is rewriting a previous version of this story. There are some scene and character changes, and I'm trying it in third person instead, but it's all from scratch without copying from any previous draft. It's like trying to write down the plot of a movie I watched twenty years ago. I remember the broad parts, but the details will be different. This way it's not an exact copy, but still the rough story I wanted to tell.




DAY TWO - 4000

Writing when I perhaps shouldn't have been, I managed to hit almost two and a half times my required word count. It's been fun switching the view point and having to write with a little less info coming from the character's heads. And having the end game in my head this time around is allowing me to fill out extra details as I rewrite old chapters from previous attempts. 


DAY THREE - 3015

A good end to the work week with almost double the 1667 put down. Still going through old ideas and fleshing out more, but little bits are growing new parts that may or may not lead somewhere. That's the fun of NaNo and no editing until January 2018.




DAY FOUR - 2202

In the early days of my NaNoing (also known as 'before my son was born') I did most of my writing at the weekends. But since 2012, weekends have always been a difficult time to find a spare hour or so without the little guy wanting my attention, or as is more often the case, not wanting my attention but wanting to make noise. So I was surprised that I managed over 2000 words while at home this day. My son spent some time playing in the garden, while I sat at the dining room table cranking out my word allowance.

I needed to hit 10,000 by close of writing Monday. But passing that Saturday lunch time was nothing but positive. Hoping the rest of the month carries on like this.




DAY FIVE - 2021

One good weekend day of writing is special, but two in a row? Miracle.


DAY SIX - 2236

Another good day of writing which I started on the train using my phone (love Google Docs). While walking from one building to another at work I did hit a revelation regarding the first chunk of story; I would be deleting a couple of thousand words when I got round to editing (not yet, because we don't edit in November, do we?). 

The section has been in every version I've written of this story and then I realised while I was thinking about it that the section is unnecessary, that it just bogs things down. If you take it out it changes nothing (except the reader's time is no longer wasted). And better still, the thought of it going doesn't bother me, so that's a good sign.

At 1667 a day, Monday needed to have me at 10,002 words. Somehow, with a strong start to this November, I was sitting at 15,293. This is a massive confidence boost, and as with last years story UTOPIA FOR PEARS, I have a lot in my head, so I don't think I should hit any lulls. 


DAY SEVEN - 2100

Busy day today so words were a little slow at getting to page, but a splurge around lunch time took me close to the daily 1667 and then a nice gap in the afternoon coupled with a brand new tangent in a scene carried me over the 2000. I'm about to cross the line now away from my original attempts of this story, so looking forward to seeing what happens next. I have a plan, but it's all uncharted. 


DAY EIGHT - 3194

Another day of early writing, plus a half day from work allowed me to get some good writing time in. I meant to stop around 2000, but an idea for a scene kept me going and I rolled over 3000 just before dinner time.

My target for crossing 20,000 was November 12th. Now at 20,587, I've managed to cross it 4 days early. Again; I wish I could write this strong outside of one month a year.



And that's it for now as I start the second week of NaNo 2017. I'm stronger than any NaNo I've done before (just) and I feel like I've got enough 'Imagination Fuel' to keep going and not hit any road blocks.

How are you all doing? Is this your first time, or are you a seasoned pro? Let me know in the comments below, and remember to keep writing.

See you in seven.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 09: "NaNoWriMo 2017 - Day 1"

So, NaNoWriMo 2017 has started.

It's early days (the earliest) but I've started and that's what matters.


So far, on SUPERGOD!

In my planning I've written several chapters previously, and keep changing my mind which one is 'Chapter One'. Today I finally settled on one and it feels right. Previous attempts were always the start of the first third of the novel, but now I've got it planned in a bit more detail, it makes sense to open where I have. Of course anything can change before this hits readers minds, but for now, I'm happy.



DAY ONE - 1819 words

I'd written this scene before where our main character Gareth Dunsford was introduced. He works at Megamovies video store and has a strange encounter that, unknown to him straight away, will change his life in some really cool and crazy ways.

In previous attempts of both this scene and the story, I've written in first person. This led to Gareth being a funnier (to himself at least) and bitter character. I'd always thought this story would be first person but was surprised when I sat at my keyboard today and found that I started in third person instead. And so far (two scenes) it feels better. Gareth feels more like I want him to be, and in turn he helps the book become more like what I want from it. Fingers crossed it works out.

And I not only hit the good old 1667, but went a little over. Nothing feels better during NaNoWriMo than having extra words in the bank.



That's all for now. November 1st almost snuck up on me this year (busy week last week and then off work with mild kidney stone pain). But I got started and now it's 29 more days to see what comes out of my idea.

Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@BrianSCreek) how you're doing and shout out your word counts.

Next weeks update with be a little fuller.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 08: "NaNoWriMo - This Writers Holiday"

I may now have my first book out, and I may have a mountain of 1st drafts, but it doesn't stop me from getting excited when this time of year comes round. NaNoWriMo, and all the new characters, new locations, and new plot twists.


November is almost the equivalent of a holiday. All my projects are like 'my place of work' with deadlines, cover design, planning, editing. But NaNoWriMo is a secluded hotel on a little known Greek island; just me, a loose plan, and 30 days of unknown.



A QUICK HISTORY OF MY NANO

I first started taking part in NaNoWriMo back in 2007. 

I'd stumbled upon it by chance and it was more of a 'I'll have a go' than a serious wish to be a published writer. I'd struggled for years to finish a project and NaNo was  just another half hearted attempt.

So I was as surprised as anyone when I managed to cross that 50,000 word finish line on my first attempt. I ended the month with a first draft novel in my hands. Not an outline. Not just the first few chapters. Not a short story. 

50,000 words. And I'd managed it in 30 days. Impressive, no?

So eventually, I became hooked and since then I've written and uploaded 400,280 words across 10 NaNo's, as well as 42,354 words for a couple of July CampNaNos.


2007
Death Is Just A Day Job - 50,162

2008
The Adventures Of Maxwell Cooper - 0

2009
What A Hero Wants - 50,160

2010
I Am Broken - 57,149

2011
The Adventures Of Maxwell Cooper - 15,150

2012
Dead Dollars - 2,173

2013
Mighty Grey (Season One) - 58,185

2014 (Camp)
Tattoo: The Symbol For Strength - 20,460

2014
Fractured Dawn (Season One) - 52,154

2015 (Camp)
Chris And Mike vs The World (1) - 21,894

2015
Chris And Mike vs The World (2-3) - 51,113

2016
Utopia For Pears - 64,034

2017
?



THIS YEAR'S PROJECT IS . . .

So what will I be writing this year?

Well I originally thought, as I headed into my second decade of NaNoing, that maybe I could go back to one of my previous 1st drafts and attempt a rewrite. But NaNo is, for me, all about getting that first draft down. Rewriting is editing and should have time and care given to it. Not November.

So I decided against.

Next I looked at two previous NaNo's that never got close to the 50,000 finish line. DEAD DOLLARS failed because I was in a low point in my life and had a lot going on (job redundancy, house move, and child's early birth are top of that list). THE ADVENTURES OF MAXWELL COOPER failed (twice) because . . . well I still don't know why.

Because they are both fails, I worry that they will hang like an albatross around my neck. I think they will need to be dealt with when I have the time and patience to untangle them.

So I decided against these too.

Instead, I looked through my mountain of notebooks, going through all the unwritten projects I have. 

There was SAND POINT, an expansion of a 300 word story I put up at The Angry Hourglass a couple of years ago. It's a big project, one that spans decades, and it will need a hell of a lot of planning, so that was taken back off the table. 

There was fantasy/sci-fi project THE 13th CLAN, which is also quite a large project. I've been planning this one on/off since before I even knew what NaNoWriMo was and am struggling to find a good starting point, so it has been left for another time.

And then a forgotten project poked it's head up, one I'd started last year and left behind by mistake. SUPERGOD; the story of a guy fed up with the world and then finds he's been given incredible superpowers. And while he eventually becomes a world renowned super hero, the source of his powers comes back to bite him in the ass. It's been begging to be written for some time now and I feel like I'm ready.

Plus this years NaNo theme is . . .




. . . so that has to be a sign, right?

This one. This one IS for NaNo



COUNTING DOWN

So, it's one week to go. I'll be fine tuning the details in my spare time and getting a Scrivener file ready, but I'm going in with a loose plot and seeing what comes out on December 1st. Just like I do every year.

Let me know if you guys are joining in this year and what you're working on. Send me a Writer Buddy request over on the NaNo site here

And that's all really. 

I'll be posting regular weekly updates every Wednesday through November; word counts, writing disasters, and other non-spoilery stuff.

After that it's all about rounding out the year with work on my next project (more on that in a few weeks) and then planning 2018.

Until then . . . get writing.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 07: "Creating Brisk Worlds - part 3"


Brisk Worlds have been out in the wild for 37 days now, (first review here) and it has already taken on a new form.

As of October 13th it can be purchased in paperback form!!!!!


Now, the more astute of you might notice that the cover looks completely different from the eBook version that I released back in September. Well, that's because it is. By quite a bit.



THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Publishing a book was my dream since starting this blog (and for many years before too). In September I accomplished that with an eBook collection of my Flash Fiction entitled BRISK WORLDS

It was a fun learning curve and got me over the hump I'd been stuck behind for quite sometime. And while it does count as 'me being published', like many writers out there, your book just doesn't feel like it counts until you can hold a real copy in the palm of your hand.

Putting together an eBook is the easier of the two options by far. The formatting is simpler due to the settings on most devices taking care of font size, justification, etc. You don't have to worry about headings, page numbers, or blank pages. So, so simple.

I put the eBook out to cross the milestone, accomplish my goal, tick the box, scratch that itch. 

And then I set straight to work on the paperback.

It got stressful at times. You want every chapter to start on the right hand page. Blank pages creep in but you don't want the page number or the header on them. It becomes a digital nightmare and MS Word fought me every step of the way. When that's all figured out (hours of formatting later) your book needs a back cover to match the front-

-which is where I was led astray.


BLANK CANVA

Although I worked my ass off creating the cover myself (see post vol 4 part 3), because I was using such basic tools, I had issues with KDP not liking the DPI of my finished piece. It turned out that, although it looked good on my laptop, the process of putting my design from MS PowerPoint to MS Word and back again caused quality issues. 

I pushed through with the paperback version at the time and ordered a proof copy from Createspace. It looked . . . good . . . but not great. And while others couldn't see it, the image and the text had a certain . . . 'blur' to them.

I figured it would have to do but I knew that I would want better for any future project. So I looked around to see what else was available on a budget. 

A few fellow writer friends offered up the programs they use. I still wanted free, because I just can't spare enough on this yet. And then I was reminded of CANVA (see post vol 1 part 27).

Wanting to know what I could accomplish by just playing around, I got to work on a cover. With no ideas at the time for the cover of my upcoming project, I figured it would be easier to just try something alternate for BRISK WORLDS instead.

The original cover, with the trial and error, the restarts, the formatting, and the reader voting blog post must have hit six or seven hours of work (at least).

The grey cover above took about 25 minutes.

And I fell in love with it immediately.

I couldn't put my finger on it, but the image of the world, the font, and how it all went together (front and back) just looked a hell of a lot more professional than the original.



A TALE OF TWO COVERS

Torn was the best way to describe me after that. At first I kept it to myself (and fellow writer Liz Hedgecock because I had to share my creation with someone!). 

But then I showed a few people at work and a few family members and a few friends and . . . well they all liked the new one. And I liked it more and more as the days passed. 

It just left me with a big choice to make.

Of course, we know how it ended, don't we. Last week I received my own paperback copy of the new cover and it looked perfect. So I approved the proof and released the paperback version of BRISK WORLDS into the wilds of Amazon.

That's almost it now (Kobo version coming December 2017). With one project behind me, I'm busy at work on Project Rage, before I settle down and spend my November diving into NaNoWriMo.

I'm over the hurdle of publishing and my hope now is that momentum carries me onward, project after project, release after release.

I'm actually looking forward to 2018.

See you in . . . seven.





Wednesday, 4 October 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 06: "Author Interview - Craig Anderson"


In 2012 I was given a Kobo e-reader as a gift. That first day, while browsing the online bookstore, I came across GETTING LUCKY by Craig Anderson. I’d never heard of him and didn’t know what ‘indie authors’ were back in the day, but it was free, and I honestly just wanted to test downloading something.

Five years later and I’m happy to introduce Craig as the first author I’ve ever interviewed.

Since publishing GETTING LUCKY back in 2013, Craig has produced a hoard of Flash Fiction, finished the Lucky Beggar trilogy with LUCKY SHOT and LUCKY BREAK, dipped his toe into future sci-fi with COLONY, and this month turned his hand to writing a Cyber thriller with the release of TROJAN.

I’ve invited Craig along today to talk to us about where his ideas come from, creating his covers, and where he’s headed next.


Hello Craig. Hope you’re well. Congratulations on your latest release, TROJAN. Tell us a little about it.

I'm a huge nerd and love gadgets and tech. I've always wanted to write a book that dealt with technology, particularly hackers, as I feel like it's a skill that is going to be increasingly in demand as the world becomes more connected. As with most of my books it started as a short story and just kind of grew from there. It was really fun to write a thriller, something fast paced with lots of car chases and explosions.

It wasn't all plain sailing, there were a lot of challenges I had to overcome. It was my first attempt at a full length book in third person, which was a lot harder than I anticipated. I never appreciated how much exposition I could get away with by being inside a character's head, and then all of a sudden I had walls of text as my characters blurted out key plot points. Obviously that all had to go. It required a lot of fine-tuning!

I also struggled because it's not a comedy. My default mode is humour and there were plenty of times where the characters were laughing and joking when the scene called for something more sombre. One of my beta readers gave feedback along the lines of 'wow, they are taking this tragedy extremely lightly...' and I knew it was time to go back and trim 90% of the puns. 

Overall I am really happy with how it has turned out and early feedback has been v positive, which is always a relief when you're trying something new!



How has it’s first month in the wild been; kind or cruel?

This is a hard question to answer! I sold a lot more copies of Trojan in its first month than I did for any previous book I have released, so in this regard I would consider it a success.

However, I had high expectations going in as I spent far more time planning this launch than I have in the past. Despite all these efforts the sales haven't really taken off in the way that I had hoped, at least not yet.

The hardest part of selling books is the waiting. It takes a long time for people to read your book and then hopefully review it or maybe even tell their friends about it. After the flurry of sales in the initial launch there is always this lull while you're waiting for the next wave to hit. I'm trying to fill the time productively by writing another book.



TROJAN is a change in direction for you (less laughs but more action). Did you choose this shift in genre, or did the story do it for you?

A little bit of both. I had the idea for TROJAN a long time ago, but I left it on the back burner to focus on other stories. I love to write humour. I'm a huge Terry Pratchett fan and he is a huge inspiration for my writing, so naturally a lot of the stories I tell are satirical.

Unfortunately the humour market is a bit of a tough nut to crack. It is so subjective that what one person finds hilarious is dull as dishwater to someone else. Reviews and recommendations are therefore all over the map. It's not that there aren't readers for humour, they just seem to be harder to find. 

At the start of this year I made the conscious decision to take my writing more seriously (I don't mean less funny, I mean more money!) We have two little ones and the daycare bills are eye watering, it's like having another mortgage. I started listening to indie author podcasts and reading books and taking courses to try to learn more about the business side of things. One of the first lessons was to learn a genre and write a book that readers in that genre will enjoy. With humour being so eclectic that was hard to do, so I started thinking about some of the other stories I'd jotted down over the years. It was a conscious choice to try something new, but TROJAN still took on a life of its own. It was only supposed to be a novella!



Have you found the process of writing and publication getting easier with each new book you put out?

Yes and no.

I've gotten much better at the writing part. It took me a looooong time to actually finish a story, but once I did then I knew that I could. I'm slowly internalizing all the story structure rules and how best to make stories flow, so every time I get a little bit better at that stuff. TROJAN was slower because I was outside my comfort zone for a while, but I'm hoping when it comes to writing the sequel I'll be much quicker.

The publishing side of things is a whole different animal. When I released my previous 4 books I barely even told anyone, i hit publish, threw up a facebook post and moved on to something else. I didn't even know what I didn't know, I just hoped that somehow readers would magically find my books, fall in love with them and tell all their friends. I've learned a lot since my last launch, so TROJAN is my first attempt at doing it 'properly'. There's still going to be lots of things I miss the mark on, but I already sold more copies in pre-order than some of my other books have sold outright, so it certainly feels like I'm heading in the right direction.


You’ve lived on three continents, have two children, three pets, and still managed to write five novellas to date. Magic?

Haha - I wish, how cool would that be! Unfortunately I'm pure muggle. 

Counter intuitively having kids allowed me to write more. Sounds crazy I know. My wife and I used to go out for dinner, go to the movies, have dates, you know, spend time together. That didn't leave a whole lot of time for writing. Then when we moved to Canada I found myself jobless for a few months and to pass the time I wrote. I'd always enjoyed it but since being a 'grown up' I hadn't spent time doing it. Something about it really clicked with me. I slogged away on a novel for a while but just couldn't finish it, and in frustration I wrote Getting Lucky just so I could finish something. I put it out there with no expectations. 

Shortly afterwards we had our daughter, and for a year my free time went out the window again because I was so engrossed in learning to be a dad. I also learned to survive on basically zero sleep. I have always been a night owl and detested getting up in the morning, but an infant gives zero poops how you're feeling at 5am, so I just learned to suck it up and figured out how to function on 5-6 hours sleep. 

Then something odd happened. At the end of a busy day my wife and daughter would both be asleep by 9pm, but I was still wide awake. I remembered how much I had enjoyed writing in my down time and I just kind of picked it up again. Our son switched things up again, but by then my writing habit was already established. I have the occasional dip between projects to recharge my batteries, but otherwise I try to put out 500 words a day, which adds up to a novella pretty quickly. Now if I could only learn to edit a little quicker!



Despite the warnings not too (which I myself ignored) you have taken a stab at your own covers in the past with pretty good results. Was this just a monetary decision or is it something you enjoy?

A little bit of both. I usually have a pretty good sense of the overall theme I am going for with the cover. I often create the cover before I write the book, and then I set it as my desktop background. It's a great way to remind me of what I am working towards. Sometimes I use these covers and other times I scrap them. It depends how well I'm able to capture the picture of the story I have formed in my head. 

My original cover for Getting Lucky was pretty bad, it wasn't until I made it into a series that I re-did it. Here's my first stab at it (get ready to cringe)


Yeah, that's me pretending to be homeless. I still have the cardboard sign in my basement. It doesn't exactly scream this book is hilarious does it!

That's not my only misstep. I remember being in a group giveaway with The Colony and there my book was amongst dozens of other sci-fi stories, and all I could see was how my cover stood out for all the wrong reasons. There were these stunning spaceships, aliens, robots and monsters, and then my poorly sketched beehive. It looked like a home made cover. I ended up finding some artwork online that captured the spirit of the book so much better than I ever could and I bought the image rights from this amazing indie artist. It was great to support someone else that was doing what they love and the results were immediate. Now The Colony looks like a sci-fi book and sales have improved. 

I should also point out that I am borderline OCD. I spent 15 hours making the paperback cover for the Lucky Beggar Trilogy. I flipped the cover image so that the dogcatchers pole didn't disappear into the spine, which meant reworking every single layer. I redid the background colouring to make it work in print. I tried twenty different fonts for the back cover text. I measured and remeasured every element to make sure it was all lined up. 

That's time I could have spent writing. I could have paid someone to do a much better job than I did in a third of the time. Still, it was my first paperback release and there was definitely a sense of satisfaction knowing that every single thing from front to back was something I had created.



When you published Getting lucky, did your mind turn to sequels then, or was that something that came later?

Getting Lucky was always meant to be a standalone book. I wrote it out of frustration as I was stuck on my current project for several months and wasn't making any progress. It started as a short story and just kind of kept going. I released it more to test the process of uploading to Amazon. 

The problem with Getting Lucky was that I was so determined to finish it that I ended it too soon. It doesn't wrap things up in a neat little bow, it kind of just...ends. I always found myself thinking back to Luke and Lucky and wondering what they might be up to. Then one day a fan of Getting Lucky that shall remain nameless (but rhymes with Fryin Greek) wrote to me and asked if I would ever write a sequel. The timing could not have been better, it was just as I was getting my free time back, and next thing I knew I was up to my eyeballs in concentrated karma! I actually planned out books 2 and 3 at the same time, so I knew how the trilogy was going to end when I wrote book 2, at least at a high level. That made the whole process a lot smoother. 



Do you think you’ll ever return to the Lucky Beggar universe?

I've certainly toyed with the idea and have a couple of threads I could tug on (hint, Luke retrieved more than one vial of concentrated karma from the fridge in Getting Lucky...) but for now I'm going to let them have their happy ending. 

I did try writing a prequel story from Lucky's point of view, but let me tell you, writing in first-canine perspective is tough to wrap your head around. After a paragraph long description of another dog's butt smell I gave up on that idea!



You’ve mentioned before about a ‘Project Christmas’ which you feel you’ve edited to death. Can you tell us what it's about and do you think it will ever see the light of day?

Project Christmas is about a guy called Barry Black who accidentally applies to a job at a magical consulting company. His first project is working for Santa Claus, who has run his company (Christmas Inc) into the ground and needs help to stay afloat. Hilarity ensues. 

I love the book and hope to one day release it, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to make the middle interesting. The first 3rd of the book is some of my favorite writing, and the ending is solid, but the middle is eye gouge-ingly awful. Despite a dozen attempts to bridge the gap, I have yet to find one that works. I'm going to keep trying though, because I have learned a lot since I wrote Project Christmas 10 years ago and I keep hoping that I have inadvertently unlocked the key to finishing it and getting it off my darn to do list. 



What do you have in the pipeline?

Next up on my docket is the sequel to The Colony, which is called The Collapse. It's going to take a closer look at what happened to the world when 3.5 billion men died all at once. I've been spending a lot of my time contemplating what a world without men would look like, and I've come to the conclusion that women would be just fine! Some might even argue it would be an improvement :)

I've only just started The Collapse, but I'm hoping to have that one out by the end of the year!



I know that you like video games. If you could write a fanfic story set in any game universe, what game would it be and why?

I am disturbingly obsessed with Titanfall 2 at the moment - like 250 hours of playtime obsessed. I don't normally play games for any great length of time, normally I fizzle out and move on to something else. I keep meaning to write a fan fic in this universe, maybe focusing on the lighter side of the war, like from the point of view of a titan mechanic or someone else who doesn't get to do the awesome robot on robot fighting. I think it would be kind of funny to be the guy that fixes the titans and 10 seconds after you're done it gets jettisoned off for some ungrateful pilot to charge into a 4 on 1 battle with!



Well, that's all from Craig (for now). I'd like to thank him big time for being my first victim interview.

You can find out a whole heap more about The Man, The Legend on his website, or follow him on twitter.

And don't forget to head over to your local Amazon website and check out his recent release; TROJAN!




and of course . . . Canada