Let me tell you a story…
It’s the story of my adventure so far in getting my book series to publishing. It has twists and turns, and key moments along my journey. It’s a story I want to tell, because yesterday (Nov 29, 2020) I hit a big checkpoint.
Let’s nip back in time to the first stop on our historical road trip…
2006 – The Writing Begins…
If you’ve explored this website, then you might have found the Femme Fatales section. Here you’ll find some of my scribblings dating back to 2006 in a pretty raw form (so take them with a pinch of salt).
These are my GENESIS as a writer.
They were kind of fan-fiction stories based around my characters in the MMORPG ‘City of Heroes’ and over the years I wrote almost four books worth of story. A friend read it and said I should publish, a notion to which I scoffed. It was (and still is) in sore need of an edit, most of the characters are other people’s creations, and all the backstory stuff is copyrighted to NCSoft (the company that made the game).
The same friend said, could I just change the names and places to avoid any trademark/copyright infringement. I thought about it…but changing all that stuff seemed to fundamentally change what the story was somehow.
The adventures of Knightingale and Rogue in the metropolis of Paragon City was where those stories was meant to stay.
But it did make me wonder…
Stop number 2 on out time travel adventure…
I’ve always been a huge Kevin Smith fan.
I love his forthright nature and his bright optimism for creativity. There’s a quote of his that stuck with me…
“If you’re alive, kick into drive. Chase whimsies.
See if you can turn dreams into a way to make a living, if not an entire way of life.”
That quote (and many more like it from him) struck a chord with me.
I WOULD go out there and create. Chase MY whimsy. Tell the story only I can tell.
Right, off we go to stop number 3…
Now, the timeline may overlap here with me listening to Kevin Smith. The actual sequence of events is blurry. While I KNOW that it was Kevin’s plea that actually got me to take this seriously, I may have been tinkering with the story beforehand anyway.
The earliest file I can find on my computer dating the origin of the saga is dated for February 2016 but, in reality, the seeds of the idea were formed a long time before that.
The storyline was planned to be pretty much as it is today, but it back then it did include the notion of bringing not only Vampires and Werewolves et al into the narrative, but also a whole bunch of gods to. The likes of Odin and Thor, Isis and Ra, Apollo and Zeus etc.
Hence the title had tentatively been ‘Gods and Monsters’.
Two things changed my course…
First up, I was struggling to find a good narrative story for the gods angle. I was FAR more interested in the ‘monsters’.
Secondly, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called The Mummy in 2017. It was supposed to launch Universals ‘Dark Universe’ and they were bandying the phrase ‘gods and monsters’ around with gay abandon.
So I decided to change my saga.
So, we turn time back to 2017 for stop number 4…
Around April 2017, the working title officially changed and became ‘Songbird’.
I wasn’t totally happy with it, but it was fine for now. The initial planning had the book series at five books in length, and I was getting really happy with the storyline. I started writing.
Boy, did I start writing.
It took me around a year to write book 1. And in that year I went crazy. The final word tally on my first draft was 260k words.
A google search on the Harry Potter series deeply disturbed me…
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 76,944 words
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 85,141 words
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253 words
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 190,637 words
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 257,045 words
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 168,923 words
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 198,227 words
My first draft BIGGER Than J K Rowlings largest book in her saga.
Clearly, I had a HUGE problem. I didn’t know what to do about it at all, and I started going about culling it down to something more reasonable. But, I didn’t know the first thing about editing.
Enter Judith Tarr.
Forward to stop 5 in 2018…
I’m not a rich man, but I did scrape enough cash together to get some editing advice and tips from Judith back in the tail end of 2018.
It was money well spent.
I wish I could have afforded more of her time, but what I did get from her was absolutely invaluable in helping me finding all the text in my manuscript that was either surplus to requirements or simply offensive.
She taught me to avoid the male gaze when describing female characters, to take out all the description that bogged down the flow, to ‘show don’t’ tell’, where I was falling into far too much exposition.
I took everything I had learned and tried to make my manuscript better.
A year later and the draft was down to around 170k words. What’s more it was much better for it. I’m sure that Judith would still find a million things I’ve done wrong, but I tried my best. Hunters was finally rounding into shape.
I finally put the book in the hands of other people to read and give feedback. This was SCARY!!!!!
My wife and my friends Chell, Sarah and Andy all had copies of the book to read and give their feedback. I wanted to know if the story was engaging, the characters likable, and if they could see any continuity errors or issues.
All of them gave great feedback, which helped me round the book into shape even more. I’ll be eternally grateful to these guys for being my initial guinea pigs!
Okay, last historical stop coming up…
I made a move to engage with the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, where I met a huge bunch of people who would become instrumental in getting things done on the book. From cover art to book launch trailers.
But the most important was @Nikki_Twisted.
We hit it off early and became fast twitter-buds. We both needed help with our manuscripts and both of us had expertise to lend. I’m pretty good with story, and she’s great at editing.
Nikki is also a wonderful central point of contact for a network of people who have travelled the publishing path before us. Suddenly I’m swimming in a pool of knowledge. And this is where I start to push forward at a rapid pace.
Firstly, the book series got it’s official name.
Back in my youth, I loved the Alan Moore comic series published in 2000AD called ‘The Ballad of Halo Jones’. It’s a wonderful little sci-fi space series following the central character Halo on her travels and adventures.
I really wanted to kind of homage the title. So I did…
The second thing was, I started to Query.
Initially I was determined to go the Traditional route to publishing. This entails Querying for an Agent, then seeing if they can get you into a traditional publishing house.
Back to 2020
As I’ve detailed here previously, the ensuing lockdown gave me the gift of time, and I used that time to get shit done!
Here’s a brief synopsis.
- Book 1 got its final edit thanks to Nikki.
- I made the decision to get out of the querying (temporarily) and pursue Indie publishing. (If you want to know why, read this blog post by K.C. Julius on Emma Lombards website… it’ll explain all!)
- I got my cover art thanks to fabulously talented Marlena Mozgawa (and a quick thanks to Sylessae for point us in her direction.
- I got a launch date penciled in (March 17, 2021 in case you were forgetting!)
- I got book 2 in the saga, ‘Blood to Earth’, finished in it’s first draft form.
- AND I got a launch trailer thanks to the amazing Katie Hagamann which you can see below:
Which brings me to this week…
On Sunday November 29, 2020 Hunters got uploaded to IngramSpark and formatted ready for publishing.
I WILL do a whole other blog post to talk about why the decision was made to go with IngramSpark for publishing, but after a bit of a learning curve with their book builder I got the book ready to go.
And that brings us up to the present.
Love & Books