NaNoWriMo 2013 – Halfway Freebie!

Christmas Past Owen Adams

I said when I crossed the 25k mark that I’d be having a little eBook freebie, and here it is. Christmas Past, the first book I published, will be free for the rest of the week on the kindle store. Check it out at the links below:

In the UK / In the US

Five Great Science Fiction eBooks.

I have always loved a good science fiction yarn, and if you’re reading this blog then you probably feel the same way. The eBook revolution is upon us, but it can be difficult to sort through the dross. With that in mind, I present you with my list of five excellent Sci-Fi stories available on the kindle store. If any of these take your fancy, I’ve provided links straight through to Amazon.

5) Lacuna: Demons of the Void – David Adams

Lacuna Demons of the Void book coverLacuna is a novel that feels classic and brand new at the same time. It belongs very much to the Star Trek mould, following the exploits of a starship captain in Earth’s future. When Lacuna sets itself apart is in a more nuanced interpretation of that future. After the planet is attacked by a mysterious enemy, mankind sets out into the stars to strike back, but this is a humanity far from united. Back home, the planet is divided into massive power blocks that have enough problems without alien invaders.

The Lacuna story does not end here, and Adams’ follow up novels are even better, but this is a great opening chapter and really worth picking up.

4) The Time Machine – H.G Wells

H.G Wells The Time Machine CoverH.G Wells classic story of a lone time traveler. This novella is absolutely one of the finest time travel stories ever written. It features all the classics of the genre; a fish out of water protagonist, a troubling future, commentary on the human condition, and even a couple of good plot twists along the way. For a writer of his time, Wells remains unbelievable readable, and this is one of his best stories. An absolute must for any Time Travel lover.

As a bonus, the Enriched Classics version (linked above) is currently free!

3) Yesterday’s Gone: Season One – Sean Platt and David Wright

Yesterday's Gone Season One Book CoverThe eBook market is a great place to try out serialised fiction. With Yesterday’s Gone, Sean Platt and David Wright have really owned the format. A thrilling story that owes a lot to Stephen King and Left Behind (without the crazy religious element), Yesterday’s Gone is one of my favourite books in ages. Originally released in a series of short parts, the collected Season One ebook is definitely the best way to start experiencing this story. It begins when the majority of the world’s population suddenly vanished. From there, an eclectic group of characters all over America are gradually drawn together. The story doesn’t end with Season One, but there’s a lot in this eBook and you’ll definitely be left wanting more. There are a lot of great books on this list, but this is the one that most exploits the eBook format to tell a great story.

2) Dune – Frank Herbert

Dune Kindle Edition CoverI should probably apologise for putting Dune on this list. After all, it’s a classic that you can probably find cheaper in any second hand bookstore in the english speaking world. However, it’s a decision I stick by. Dune is one of my favourite books, but it’s hardly an easy read, and it’s a weighty tome that doesn’t lend itself well to reading on the train. Since picking up the kindle, I’ve really enjoyed re-reading Dune for the first time in a very long time.

Most people will have some familiarity with Dune by now, but unless you’ve read the book then you haven’t really experience it. Set on the hostile desert world of Arrakis, Dune follows the messianic path of Paul Atreides. The son of a noble household, Paul is cast out into the sands of Arrakis and must lead the savage Fremen who live there in order to save the planet from the vicious Harkonnen family. It sounds complicated, and it is, but it has a lot in common with the complex mythic worlds of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin.

1) Wool – Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey CoverWool doesn’t need much promotion these days. What started off as a self published short story has become a smash hit since then, with talk of a movie adaptation on the horizon. I’m going to promote it anyway, because from the first page until the last, I enjoyed Wool. In the future, the last of the human race lives in the Silo. This vast bomb shelter is little more than a pill box on the surface, but descends deep under the surface. Within this vault lives an entire society with a single giant staircase the only route from the bottom to the top. The law is harsh, but there is one crime more serious than any other, wanting to leave.

The book is actually comprised of a series of smaller books the become longer until the fifth and final. We open with a great little short story that would have made Philip K. Dick proud, from there Howey builds on his initial story and creates a truly great fictional world. This is the kind of science fiction that just isn’t being written anymore, and I hope Wool leads to a comeback.

That’s all folks. These are the five eBooks that I think every Sci-Fi fan should have on their eReaders. If you’d like to make your own suggestions or just disagree with me, you can leave a comment. 

The Octopus of Suspense is almost ready.

Octopus Cover
Coming Soon!

Good morning, folks. How are you all enjoying your Monday so far?

It’s the start of a very special week for me, because I’ve just started the final preparations on my new eBook. The Octopus of Suspense is a collection of eight Flash Fiction stories that were previously posted to this blog as part of my Fiction Friday project. You can still read these here for now, but the eBook versions have been polished up and made all pretty for your kindles. I’m not planning on taking the originals down from the blog at the moment, but if I decide to enrol the eBook in the KDP Select programme, they’ll be temporarily removed. So enjoy them while they’re free, folks!

I’ve got the almost-final manuscript for the collection loaded on to my kindle now. I’m spending the rest of the day giving the book one last read through, catching any mistakes that have slipped through the net. After I’m happy with the text, the rest of the week will be spent making sure the formatting is fine on kindle, iPad, PC etc. Then the last job is to copy in the front matter, sort the cover and metadata, write a blurb (my least favourite job) and make sure it all looks professional.

All things going according to plan, it should hit Amazon next week.

If you’d like to check out some of my other work, hit my Amazon author pages:

Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Another Free eBook in Time for Christmas

Owen Adams Free BookMerry Christmas!

Another year has passed, it’s Christmas Eve and what would Christmas be without presents! I’m just taking a break from wrapping presents and watching sentimental TV specials with the family to tell you that you can get  a free short story, Christmas Past, on the kindle store now!

About the Book.

Christmas Past – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

Christmas Past Owen AdamsThe Time Travel story with a dark side.

A man died while the snow fell. His body would be hidden until summer, but there are strangers in the woods today. During a long forgotten Christmas, three time travellers come to town; is their presence just a coincidence or are there darker secrets hidden beneath the ice.

Free books still free.

Just so you know, both my Timewasters short stories are still free on the Kindle store.

time trial book cover

Time Trial – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

Harbour is the nicest place to live in the known universe. Unless you’re a time traveller. 

It has been weeks since Annie left Earth and all she wants to do is go home, but first she and her friends must stand trial.

Unfortunately, they are all guilty. 

Christmas Past Book Cover

Christmas Past – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

The Time Travel story with a dark side.

A man died while the snow fell. His body would be hidden until summer, but there are strangers in the woods today. During a long forgotten Christmas, three time travellers come to town; is their presence just a coincidence or are there darker secrets hidden beneath the ice.

YAFB! – Yet Another Free Book

Free BookGood morning freebie fans.

Just a quick post to let you know about another freebie. You might have missed Time Trial last week, but don’t worry because my first short story Christmas Past, is free today!

Here are the details.

Christmas Past Book CoverChristmas Past – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

The Time Travel story with a dark side.

A man died while the snow fell. His body would be hidden until summer, but there are strangers in the woods today. During a long forgotten Christmas, three time travellers come to town; is their presence just a coincidence or are there darker secrets hidden beneath the ice.

 

Free Book on the Kindle Store Today

time trial book coverOMG FREE BOOK!

Good morning all.

As promised, Time Trial is free today on the kindle store. It’s only going to be free until tomorrow, so grab it when you can.

Harbour is the nicest place to live in the known universe. Unless you’re a time traveller. 

It has been weeks since Annie left Earth and all she wants to do is go home, but first she and her friends must stand trial.

Unfortunately, they are all guilty. 

Time Trial – Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

In Other News

As we get to the end of October, we approach a very exciting time for the aspiring novelists of the Internet. NaNoWriMo is here again, and as I decided after much musing, I will be going for it this year. It’s always a great event and I’m looking forward to it, but it’s forced a bit of a squishing into my schedule. With that in mind, I thought I’d give you all a bit of an update.

Hybrid is being bumped until after Christmas time. I know I’ve been promising the next Timewasters story for a couple of months now, but there are good reasons. Firstly, I don’t want to be worrying about sorting out any problems with publishing and promoting during NaNoWriMo, it’ll be much smooth to wait until afterwards. Secondly, it’s not that long since Time Trial was released and I want to really look at the story before publishing. I feel like it’s pretty much finished, and I’m happy with it, but I’ve written two in succession pretty quickly now and I’d like to step back and get a bit of perspective on it.

So, by the end of 2012 there will be three Timewasters stories on sale. In 2013 this should continue, I will also be publishing a Novella around March-April. As for my NaNoWriMo novel… we’ll have to see how it turns out.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the story. 

Time Trial: A short science fiction eBook – On Sale Now!

Celebrations are in order because my new short story, Time Trial has just been published to the Kindle store.

time trail book cover“Harbour is the nicest place to live in the known universe. Unless you’re a time traveller. 

It has been weeks since Annie left Earth and all she wants to do is go home, but first she and her friends must stand trial.

Unfortunately, they are all guilty.”

This story is a 9000 word adventure. Set on an Earth colony in the far future, it explores a society where time travel is illegal. It is part of my Timewasters series and follows the same characters from Christmas Past. I had a lot of fun writing it and I will be returning to this series for my next short story.

If you’d like to read this story, it’s only 99c/77p and available from Amazon.

Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

The Craftsman or the Factory Line.

Finishing a piece of writing is harder than it sounds.

I know it probably shouldn’t be. I mean, as writers we should be well versed with the entire process of writing, right? We should know each and every step of a project start to finish. After all, we’re writers? We’re the people who do the writing, who else is going to know?

This doesn’t seem to be the case.

Perhaps the most common complaint I hear from other writers, and from myself, is that it’s a hassle to get projects finished. I know this was my problem. I was calling myself a writer for years, but I didn’t actually sit down and bring a story to something I could call completion until the end of last year. That was the first, and only time, I’ve turned the last page on a manuscript and said “it’s done.” Hopefully that will change soon. My deadline for Time Trial is the fifteenth and I’m probably going to meet it, but those near-deadline doubts and anxieties are creeping in. It has me thinking about how I ever made myself finish that first story, and the approach I take to my work.

I used to take The Craftsman approach. I think everyone probably does at first. The Craftsman approach is one of perfection. You start writing your story at the beginning and every time you write something you don’t like, you stop and fix it. The problem with The Craftsman approach is that it is unbearably slow. Seeking out perfection at each and every stage is impossible and this is probably the reason that so few writers actually finish projects. The other problem with this approach is that you need experience with all aspects of writing to really develop as a writer. After years of calling myself a writer, I learnt that I had no experience with anything beyond writing the first draft. I had to change the way I was doing things.

So, I moved on to the Factory Line approach. I had grown so frustrated with never finishing anything that when I wrote Christmas Past, I wrote it to a strict deadline. Too strict in fact. I started in the first week of December and told myself to be done by Christmas. It was published on the 4th of January. It has its problems, but to this day I am amazed how well that little story turned out. From there, I made a few stumbles. Firstly, I told myself that I would adopt a similar deadline approach. However, instead of working on the next story, I decided I would write a short story collection. The mistake was obvious. I had gone from setting myself a small (almost) manageable goal, to giving myself a much larger project with a much more distant deadline. The goal might have been clearly set, but the workload was too high and the date so distant that I was no better off than I had been without a deadline. It took me until June to realise this.

So, I went back to the drawing board. I gave myself a basic plan for a series of six stories, with a timeslot of six weeks to bring each to completion. This was my Factory Line. Producing a single product in a concentrated space of time, publishing and  moving on the next. The results have been satsifactory so far. The first draft of Time Trial was produced quickly and I was happy with it. After that, I have had much more time to go back and revise and edit it. However, now I’m running into some of the flaws with this approach, and I can’t decide if I’m just having reasonable doubts or I’m sniffing out major wounds in my work.

My biggest problem is that, like most writers, I get too close to my work while I’m writing it. This makes it much harder to view the work objectively, and I find I trust my judgement less and less. My Factory Line approach says I should work to get the story as perfect as I can, publish and then move on. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea, at this stage in my development as a writer I am probably better served moving on to the next piece than deliberating over an old one. But, I worry that if my doubts are justified, I run the risk of publishing a terrible piece and doing real damage to my reputation.

I have always said that I want to learn as I do. Not just learning about the business side, but learning more about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I like using KDP and self-publishing as a ladder, allowing writers to start small and work their way up in a way that traditional publishing no longer allows. Unfortunately, it often leaves me second guessing my actions. Wondering if I have the right to publish my early steps into professional writing. A publisher would probably reject them, therefore I have no place publishing them. But isn’t this the attitude that self-publishing exists in opposition to? At the end of the day, I’ve set myself a deadline and I intend to meet it. I try not to let my worries change my behaviour. If being too close means that I can’t trust my judgement, the best approach is probably just to stick to the plan and look back to see how I did later. I have little reputation to tarnish at the moment, and so long as I’m honest and I only publish a work that I really feel reflect my best abilities, I have no reason to feel badly.

Making the most of your KDP select free days.

Part of the problem with self-publishing is finding an effective promotion strategy. It’s not that opportunities are hard to come by, but that no author wants their marketing to be intrusive, or even worse, expensive. Price and ethics, unfortunately, are not problems for traditional publishers with giant marketing branches but they’re an endless headache for an independent.

When I published my short story, Christmas Past, back in January, I had very little idea of what to expect in self publishing. I didn’t expect my story to sell at all, then after it sold a couple of copies, I expected it to sell lots. Which it didn’t. I’m at a slight disadvantage, I’m an unknown author trying to sell a single short story with Christmas in the title as we move further and further from December.

However, like many self published authors, I entered my book into Amazon’s KDP select program. I wasn’t expecting much to come from it; the only reason I went with KDP was because I didn’t intended to fight with Smashwords’ ridiculous formatting standards. If I was going to be publishing solely to Amazon anyway, I might as well take the benefits. Now, a few months on and the whole world seems to be publishing KDP select results and mulling over the advantages and disadvantages. I thought I’d join the fray and share what hasn’t worked for me, and what has.

What hasn’t? The lending library for Prime customers. Perhaps this will benefit me in the future when I have lengthier books out, but right now nobody wants to waste their valuable free book borrows on a short story. Understandable.

What I can talk about is KDP select and free promotions. Free days have been crucial to me in the last few months. Originally, they were something of a disappointment. Yes, they’d get me a bundle of free downloads but they never translated into sales. Where they did benefit me was in reviews. My story currently has three reviews on Amazon.com and three on Amazon.co.uk. This isn’t a huge amount, but they all came after a free promotion.

However, what I understand now that I didn’t understand then is that you really have to make the most of your select free days. Don’t just make the book free, couple it with a big marketing push and ask your friends and family to push it a little too. I ran another free day this week, but I also tweeted about the book, posted to google plus and asked all my friends on facebook to help share the book too. I managed to break into a few of Amazon’s rankings and ranked higher than I ever have before. More importantly, the sale ended a few days ago and Christmas Past is taken in a few real paid sales since then.

Now, I haven’t made any real money out of it, but bumping from no sales to five or six in a few days is a really dramatic increase. I’m sure these will drop off a bit once my promotion wears off, but it’s a helpful indicator as to what works and what doesn’t. My only hope is that the effect is amplified when you have a greater, more diverse platform to promote.

My little short story isn’t much of a performer and it’s a struggle to sell every copy, so not everything I say will apply to other people’s books, but I hope my own little experiences are helpful to you.