Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Eye Candy Advances to Top-10!


Hi, guys.

How goes it?

Wanted to let you know that Eye Candy has advanced to the shortlist for Best Indie Novel award at IndieAuthorLand, and is currently within the top 10.

Would you mind voting for it? That would be awesome.


I think you can even vote once a day. Voting closes May 15.

If you haven't read it and want to, I'm happy to provide a complimentary ebook copy in exchange for an honest review on Amazon. Feel free to leave a reply here or email me or contact me on Twitter and we'll arrange it.

Thanks.

Hope you're all doing well.

RYAN

Friday, April 4, 2014

Eye Candy Nominated at IndieAuthorLand! Hooray!



Hi, everyone.

Hope you are all well.

Writer friend Nicholas C. Rossis, author of the PEARSEUS sci-fi series, informed me that Eye Candy had been nominated at IndieAuthorLand.com for The 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading (2013/14).

This is wonderful news.


The contest wraps up Sunday the 6th, so, if at all possible, please stop by IndieAuthorLand.com and put in YOUR nomination for Eye Candy.







Sunday, January 19, 2014

10 Follow-up Questions with British Sci-Fi Writer Phillip Richards








This Author Spotlight
features

Phillip Richards

Author of EDEN
Book 3 of THE UNION SERIES





I don't know about you guys, but military fiction and military science fiction really get to me. There is something about it that is difficult to describe. When I come across a writer who was, or still is, active duty, and who writes about it, I pay attention. It's a glimpse into a world most of us will never know, populated by larger-than-life characters caught in larger-than-life situations. There is often something powerful to behold there as well.

So for the very first Author Spotlight of 2014, I'm pleased and honored to present British science fiction writer Phillip Richards. We spoke with Phil last year, hot on the heels of the success of his first two novels CROW and LANCEJACK. The latest book in the series, EDEN, is now available.


1. This is a follow-up interview, but for people who are not already familiar with your work, tell us what kind of books you write and what readers should expect from your stories, and what is your latest novel EDEN about?

I write military science fiction, using the genre as a means to reflect upon aspects of my service within the British Army. I have served in the army for over thirteen years, so I have a great deal to talk about, but because I am still serving I can’t really write anything factual for legal reasons that I won’t get into.

I use my military experience to blend realism with the genre, by using military doctrine to understand how concept weapons and equipment are best employed, their advantages and disadvantages, but also by understanding how it actually feels to be there and witness conflict first hand. I feel this is where I stand out amongst the crowd. In a few hundred years half of the weapons my characters employ may not exist, but war will never be viewed through rose tinted spectacles. It will always be hell.

Eden is the third installment to the Union Series, which originally started as a standalone novel. It sees the protagonist, Andy Moralee, leading a section of dropship troopers deep into hostile territory to bring about a speedy end to a bitter feud between two rival provinces before the entire planet descends into war. The conflict needs to be brought to an end, no matter the cost, and Andy is required to work alongside a militia with little sense of humanity in order to fulfill his mission.

2. What was the duration of the writing process for EDEN?

A great deal longer than expected! From the moment the idea formed within my head to the day Eden hit the shelves, I would say it took me around six months. I originally set a deadline for October, and then the release date slipped to November, until I finally published on the 23rd of December, just before Christmas. I learnt a big lesson there, I think. One of the best things about being an indie author is that I don’t need to work to timelines set by publishers, but by setting a deadline I effectively applied the pressure onto myself anyway… In the end I ignored that deadline, and I’m glad that I did even if it might have annoyed some readers. I wanted to do the job as well as I could as well as actually enjoy writing, which is why I do it.

3. When EDEN is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?

Well, we can but hope can’t we? I’m going to be boring here, because I’m sure everyone would love to have their favorite actors. Tom Cruise for the lead role, Leonardo de Caprio and maybe Bruce Willis… No, I wouldn’t want a film to be cast driven. I would much prefer to have fresh, upcoming actors to give it a unique and believable feel. The problem with having famous actors, in my opinion, is that they make a film appear even less believable because you know who they are, and their private lives off the film set. My work specializes in being different, as well as believable- as much as military science fiction can be- so I think it would need a fresh cast.

4. Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee is also enjoying doing so these days. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of EDEN?

Hmmm… Supporting role… now that would be funny, and weird! The main character is actually me… at least the way he thinks, talks and acts, but clearly I couldn’t be him! I wouldn’t mind being Andy’s Sergeant Major, who is a rather mean and unpleasant man to work with. I’m a platoon sergeant myself these days, so being mean and unpleasant can come pretty easy at times!

5. For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?

It has to be the Sharpe series written by Bernard Cromwell. I absolutely love his books, so much so that I have read many of them twice. He blends his deep understanding of the Napoleonic era with a gripping, action packed storyline. Anybody who likes my books and doesn’t mind trading magnetic rifles for muskets should read his work.

6. As of this writing, the trend in publishing is toward series novels as opposed to stand-alone books. Is EDEN part of a series? If so, where do you see the story going (ie how many books in the series)? If not, do you have a series you’ve written or plan to write, and if so, what is it? And if not, good for you. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Eden is indeed part of a series, though not because I chose to follow trends. Like many other military fiction novels it works as part of a series because life in the military isn’t a short, isolated incident. My own service in the army, as an example, has taken me from young terrified recruit to veteran platoon sergeant with a short temper over a period of thirteen years, and I could write and talk about my experiences for a long, long time! I don’t really know how many books I will finish the series on, but there is easily scope for another two or three. Andy Moralee has yet to promote to Corporal and then Sergeant before he catches up with me, and the war on Eden is far from finished. Then there is the uprising that simmers back on New Earth…

7. Saul Bellow said “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Where do ideas for your books come from, and where are you and what are you typically doing when inspiration strikes?

I am almost always at work! My inspiration often comes from the men I see working around me, their thoughts, their experiences and their fears. I always think it funny when somebody says ‘soldiers would react to a situation like that’ or ‘they wouldn’t talk like that’. Some of the things that happen in my books actually did happen, and that’s exactly how they reacted!

8. Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that Phillip Richards is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating his next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectation influence how and/or what he writes? Or will he hold to Ellis’ suggestion?

I totally agree with Brett. No matter how much you might want fame and fortune, no matter how driven you are, if you aren’t writing about something you care about then you will never write well, and this is most definitely true with fiction. If I didn’t enjoy writing then I simply couldn’t do it. If my readers made a suggestion- and I liked it- then I would attempt to include that suggestion, but if I didn’t like the idea then I wouldn’t do it. Readers pick their author, authors don’t pick their readers.

9. The world of Indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?

It has been suggested to me a couple of times to contact a traditional publisher, but I haven’t yet done so. I like being an indie author. I don’t work to deadlines (except when I impose them upon myself!) and I write what I want to write without anybody apart from my editor- and maybe my mum- making any input whatsoever! It’s a very liberating experience, both for me and for my readers. As for the slush pile, how many wonderful books may have fallen into the gutter, simply because a traditional publishing house didn’t want to take the risk? In my belief it is the indie author- not the publishing house- that will keep the book industry alive.

10. Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?

At the moment I still consider writing to be a hobby that I’m very passionate about, rather than a career. For the next few years at least, the army will continue to be my bedrock. I plan to use the next few years to develop my writing, to see where it takes me before I take the leap of faith and finally embrace it. After five years I will be looking to finish the Union series, if I haven’t already, and perhaps start something new. No plan survives contact with the enemy, so who knows what the future will bring…

Finally, because no artistic endeavor is a solo flight, would you care to share the names and contact info for your supporting players, namely your cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), research assistants, hairdresser, dog groomer, chauffer, maid, butler, etc?

Yes, I would like to thank my wife and my family for their love and support. I would like to thank The Electronic Book Company for their work to turn my manuscript into a finished ebook, as well as my editor, Kimberley, for her hard work just prior to Christmas. Links to my cover designer, and The Electronic Book Company can be found just inside my book front cover.

Thank you, Phil, for sharing your new book. Keep us posted on the series and on any and all future projects as well.

Be sure to visit Phillip's website http://militarysciencefictionblog.blogspot.de/

Grab a copy of CROW, LANCEJACK, and EDEN right now.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

How To Begin A New Novel

I just read a post on Nathan Brandsford's blog about the fact that he's beginning a brand new project. He's spent the last 5 years working on his JACOB WONDERBAR books and a how-to book for writers. So he knew the voice for those. But now he's writing something new and he's shitting his pants.

I've recently begun a brand new project and I have NO idea where it's going or what's going to happen. So I can relate to his performance anxiety.

So below please find my admittedly somewhat impulsive response posted on his blog beneath the 62 previous comments where no one except commenter 63 will ever see it.

How To Begin A New Novel

Just start.

Anyplace, anywhere.

Just start.

Stop whining, stop being a little bitch, stop psyching yourself out, stop writing blog posts about how to begin.

None of that matters.

It's all distraction and procrastination.

Like the late Elmore Leonard once said, "There is no secret. You sit down and you start and that's it."

Yeah, I know it's scary and yes I mindf**k myself in exactly the same ways I just lambasted. I think most writers do. Writing can be scary. Writing can be difficult. It's like flying a fighter jet or having 6% bodyfat. It's not easy. It's not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing or have attained it.

That which we achieve too easily we esteem too lightly.

So, again, stop blogging and go write.

Trust in yourself and in the magical process that is creation.

You'll figure it out.

Just write for yourself first.

The first draft is for figuring out what the story is about. You can deal with all the bullshit and the marketing after that.

For now, simply have fun!!!



I'll say it again, so you leave feeling uplifted and inspired and ready to make that blank page your entertainment bitch:


Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 Questions with British Writer Frank P. Ryan (@FrankPRyan)





This Author Spotlight
features

Frank P. Ryan

author of

THE SNOWMELT RIVER
Book 1 of The Three Powers Series







This week's author spotlight features Frank P. Ryan.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Frank.

I write epic fantasy novels, which form part of a series, "The Three Powers".  I was lucky enough for the first two published books in this series, The Snowmelt River and The Tower of Bones, to have gathered excellent reviews from the British Fantasy Society and Starburst Magazine, which helped to push my fantasy into the top ten bestseller list of epic fantasy novels on amazon.co.uk. American readers have always been able to buy my books as kindles, but I'm also delighted to say that The Snowmelt River was published in the US as a modestly priced hardcover in November 2013.  The third book in the series, The Sword of Feimhin, is with the publishers and will be published in 2014.

I have written each book so it features an adventure in itself - but there is also an epic narrative running through the series.  So I suggest that the books are best read in the right order, starting with The Snowmelt River.  I can promise high adventure and exciting highly original themes.

I wrote an apocalyptic science fiction novel, The Doomsday Genie, a thriller trilogy (Goodbye Baby Blue, Sweet Summer and Tiger Tiger) and a contemporary novel, Taking Care of Harry.

I teach writing skills and have been known to judge fantasy short story competitions.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I began to write spontaneously after a life-threatening motor-cycle accident when aged 19 yrs.  I also changed career from engineering to medicine.  I had never studied literature as such though I had always enjoyed reading books.  I wrote my first (unpublished, thank goodness) novel over the next two years without attending any classes on writing.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

The creativity.  My background is medicine/ science but I have always had a foot in the arts.  I also ran an art gallery for nine years while working as a consultant physician.  I feel an intense satisfaction from creating a novel.  I don’t write primarily for money although I do appreciate the income for obvious ordinary reasons.  I immensely enjoy the stage, when writing a novel, when the characters are moving around in your inner mental landscape and wanting to have their own say.  Hence I’m playing a kind of surreal game with my fantasy where the four main characters have their own Twitter outlets, although this is only just getting off the ground.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

There are two broad patterns that writers tend to follow.  Methodical writers plan it all in detail and tend to keep to a fixed regime.  I’m one of the other types, an inspirational writer.  I rely on waking up and the
next chapter just coming into my head.  This means that the writing has a compulsive quality, which is often remarked on by readers.  I do write any day I like, so it is often seven days a week.  But I only write for an hour or two a day.  In that time I can complete a novel in a year to eighteen months.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I read quite widely not just epic fantasy.  I like to read authors who have a sense of writing style as well as constructing interesting characters and an interesting narrative story.  Those three qualities are key to a good novel.  I was inspired, as a young man by great authors such as James Joyce (I loved Ulysses), Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain), Jean Paul Sartre (The Roads to Freedom), Camus (the Outsider), Hemingway, Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury), Steinbeck, indeed many others.  In epic fantasy I like Tolkein, Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman (American Gods), GRR Martin (though not his killing off his heroes), Tad Williams, currently reading Wolfe, and indeed many more.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside.  I might add that quotes are dealt with differently in English English and US English.  Indeed there are far more differences in these versions of English than people realize.  When writing my US-based science fiction novel, The Doomsday Genie, I began to compile my own list of differences between US and UK English usage.  It soon grew into quite a big list.  I made sure to use an American editor.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I tend not to use it.

7.What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?

I’m currently writing Book Four in a four-book epic fantasy series.  The title of the series is The Three Powers.  It consists of The Snowmelt River, The Tower of Bones, The Sword of Feimhin and a fourth the name of which must be kept a secret for now.  I began researching the series long ago.  Indeed I wrote a book, The Sundered World, which might be seen as anticipatory for the series, which was first published in 1999.  In writing all four subsequent books I begin by going back to notes, character sketches, etc, done at that time.  Each book always contains one or more powerful narrative developments of its own, so that my readers can enjoy them without needing to have all of the series available, but there is a powerful central narrative to the whole as well.



8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m about half way through writing Book Four of the epic fantasy series, having recently revised and polished Book Three after the publisher’s editor had a look at it.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I tend to read two or three books at once.  I’m currently reading Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

That’s a hard one to answer.  I have never lacked inspiration.  It just comes from some kind of a well inside me.  I think that the fact I love biology and I am fascinated by people, history, archeology, anthropology, and all aspects of life, are all grist to the mill.  You might be intrigued to hear that when I go on holiday I take interesting pictures with me rather than any literary source, which tells you that I am very visual in my inspiration. A single striking picture might inspire an entire chapter.  My publisher, Jo Fletcher at Quercus, has told me that my fantasy is different because of my scientific background.  I can see that I use biological knowledge in creating new worlds, strange life forms, etc.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.


I have also edited science fiction and fantasy and ran a small press that published people like Sean Williams and Shane Dix as well as my own The Sundered World, so I may have a wider perspective on writing than, say, somebody who has only ever been an author.  This has helped me when employed to judge fantasy competitions.  I also helped Brendan Murphy to set up a teenage fantasy short story competition that went nationwide in Ireland and recruited tens of thousands of applicants.

Thank you, Frank.

Congratulations on your writing success! Be sure to let us know when Book 4 is available.

Be sure to visit Frank's website FrankpRyan.com.

And grab a copy of The Snowmelt River right now!

THE SNOWMELT RIVER
(Kindle)



THE SNOWMELT RIVER
(Hardcover)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Do You Call Yourself a Writer?

I just received an email with the following subject:

When Can You Finally Call Yourself a Writer?

It was from Writer's Digest.

I found it a tad sensational and inflammatory and offensive. So naturally I clicked to read the article.

The article is penned by Chuck Sambuchino, editor and writer at large.

Here is the article:

When can you call yourself a writer?
This is an important question in every writer’s life. At what moment in time can you actually refer to yourself as a writer?
But even the very question itself is deceiving, because there are actually two questions here:
When can you look in the mirror and call yourself a writer? And when can you call yourself a writer in front of several complete strangers at a party?

When can you call yourself a writer in private?

Now. Absolutely right now.
Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.
Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. I remember reading somewhere that Robert De Niro will sometimes repeat his lines dozens of times before filming a scene, in an effort to make himself fully believe what he’s saying. That’s your goal: say it, then say it again until you believe it.
When you finally call yourself a writer, it drives home the fact that this is real. It’s serious. We’re no longer talking about some vague ambition. You’re a professional writer who has to produce content, be that novels or nonfiction books or articles or whatever.
Go ahead and say it right now: “I am a writer.” The more it becomes real for you, the more it will drive you to sit down as much as possible and put words on the page.
call yourself a writer

When can you call yourself a writer in public?

The answer to this question is also now — but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. If you start telling people that you’re in the middle of a novel, then you darn well better be in the middle of a novel.
But here’s the rub: there are two things that happen when you’re in public and first start referring to yourself as a writer.
The first thing is your friends and spouse may have an irksome tendency to snicker or roll their eyes. The truth is that one cannot become a doctor or welder simply because they say they are. Such professions take degrees and certifications.
But writers don’t need degrees or training, so it may seem like a “cheat” or “exaggeration” to others that you’re suddenly calling yourself something as prestigious as “writer.” So you don’t want to call yourself a writer in public until you’re fully ready to shrug off any silly passive-aggressive nonsense from college buddies.
Quick note from Chuck: I am now taking on clients as a freelance editor. If your query or synopsis or manuscript needs a look from a professional, please consider my editing services. Thanks!
The second thing you must be prepared for is the question that will boomerang back to you 10 times out of 10: “Oh, really — what do you write?”
I don’t care if you are at a book party in Manhattan or a hole-in-the-wall bar in the Yukon. When you say you are a writer, someone will always — always — ask, “What do you write?” and then when you answer with a general response, they will follow that up with, “Anything I might have read?”
Obviously, at the beginning of your career, with no real credits to speak of, you won’t have much to say when people start asking for details. This can cause embarrassing moments of silence, or rambling explanations that reek of self-doubt. So don’t refer to yourself as a writer in public until you have a plan to deal with follow-up questions.
In my opinion, the most important thing to remember when answering such questions is to respond quickly and concisely. Even if your credits are insignificant, if you answer with clarity and speed, it conveys confidence and that you have a plan you don’t need to explain to the world.  Try this conversation:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Oh, cool. What do you write?”
“I’m just starting out. But to answer your question: articles, mostly. Working on a sci-fi novel when I can.”
“Articles — great. Anything I might have read?”
“Not yet, but I’m working on it. I’m really enjoying myself so far.”
True, such answers aren’t impressive, but they’re confident. The writer is in control. It comes off poorly when, upon being asked what they write, a writer stammers incoherently, then answers the question by basically saying, “I’m not really sure yet, and to tell you the truth, I may just have no clue altogether! Hahaha!”
So if you don’t feel like you can confidently answer the question, or are embarrassed to say aloud that you haven’t been published, think twice before mentioning your writerly aspirations at a soiree.
But don’t forget that the sooner you start calling yourself a writer in private and in public, and the sooner you create a website and business cards, the sooner you will realize your career choice is a serious endeavor and demands your time and attention.
And that is what will drive you to sit down, put in the hard work and create.
Interesting, no?

This is indeed a dilemma writers face. I know it's happened to me loads of times. And, more often than not, I completely blow the answer. I dislike talking about my writing. Which is why I WRITE. If I wanted to speak, I'd be an orator. It helps to be both.

Nevertheless, I want to share my opinion/answer to this dilemma.

Here goes:

If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not.

If you’ve tried, REALLY tried, NOT to write but you couldn’t, and you KNOW in your bones, in your SOUL, that you MUST write, you’re a writer.

As to what to say when someone asks what you write, I’ll relate some good advice given by Lee Roddy in a writing seminar I took eons ago. (Lee invented Grizzly Adams, by the way.) Lee said, “When someone asks you what you write, you say, ‘What are you buying?’ And then shut up.”

Try that. See what happens. It's a bit cheeky and smart-assed and doesn't really answer the question, but hopefully you get my drift.

In reality, go with the Confident Writer response. Even if you barely believe it yourself, lie if you must. Pretend it's a poker game. Bluff a little. Make a game out of it. Reply as though you're a bestseller and everyone knows your work.

Eventually it will come to be your reality.

I would like to know what you guys think. If you're a writer, do you consider yourself one? Do you describe yourself as such?

If you're a reader, at what point do you feel an author can rightfully refer to him- or herself as a writer?

Thanks!

Please visit Chuck's page to see the article and his website and to leave a comment in order to be entered into a contest to win a copy of his new book. Check out his freelance editing services, too. You'll have to email him for rates. Crafty, he is.

Cheers.