Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A little teaser from a forthcoming release

Hello, this is Chris. It's been a while since I posted but I've been busy as usual. As well as currently working hard daily on two very different novels I'm also editing a couple of first drafts and getting them queued for the editor. One of them is an older book that I wrote a few years ago, and the second is the book I wrote between the end of December and the beginning of February this year. I thought you might like to have a read of a few paragraphs, so here's part of the prologue. This is a kind of horror/technological thriller, and hopefully should be out later in the year. I had a blast writing this book, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it at some point in the future.

Chris Ward
April 17th 2014


Prologue
Wooden Knees takes a Walk

The clacking branches of the leafless trees beat out the kind of tune that the old man the local kids called Wooden Knees might have made if, before he followed his father inevitably into rice farming, he had decided to take up tap-dancing instead. As it was, Masanori Kobayashi paused, put his hands on the accursed parts of his body and looked up at the grey sky with something like trepidation.
It was a little late in the year, but he knew a stand of red pine deep in the woods where he’d been claiming the sparse crop of matsutake mushrooms as his own since he was barely more than a sapling himself. None of the other farmers knew its location, but the fungi he could sell for as much as twenty thousand yen apiece came late in the year because of the orientation of the hill. No one ever thought to search this deep into the autumn, when snow was lying on the ground just over the hill, but while he despised the taste of the nasty, musty little things himself, the profits from his secret crop would keep old Wooden Knees drunk for the rest of the winter.
But the weather was turning. It was December sixth, as the calendar read, but closer to New Year by the look of the sky, almost groaning above him as it ached to dump its load of accumulated moisture down upon his head. Masanori glanced upslope towards the last crest before he reached his secret spot, wondering whether it might be better to cut his losses and run. Getting caught out here in heavy snow didn’t bear thinking about.
For a few minutes he stood in contemplation, glancing upslope for a while, then looking back the way he had come, through a skeletal glade of leafless trees, the brown curls of their shed skin heaping up on either side of the trail he had made with his heavy boots and heavier bag. He could be home and stretched out under his heated table in a couple of hours, a glass of sake in front of him and some quiz show playing on the television. But if he soldiered on for just another hour there could be a basket of money sitting inside the front door.
In the end it came down to simple economics. This was almost certainly his last foraging trip of the year. A good crop now and he could rest easy for the winter. His mouth curled up in a thin, wrinkly sneer as he considered the other uses for the money.
‘A reward,’ he muttered, in that reedy whine that ended conversations quickly. ‘A little reward for my efforts.’
He’d make this one count, put in an extra half an hour to really go over the ground, then splash out on one of the younger girls who hung around at the end of the shopping arcade late on Saturday nights. The younger ones wouldn’t touch an old bag of bones like him unless he could pay way over the going rate, but even the prettiest girls had their price, and perhaps if he took a trip to the pharmacy beforehand he could get something that would make him able to do a little more than just leer as they took their clothes on and off. Yes, he thought, it’s time for old Wooden Knees to do some proper knocking.
Feeling a little bulb of arousal bouncing around down in his pants, he slung his bag back over his shoulder and started up towards the rise.
His legs started to shake and his knees to knock together long before he reached the crest of the hill, but huffing and puffing like a old steam locomotive he finally made it, leaning against a tall sapling to catch his breath. The stand of pine was just ahead, and hopefully with it several dozen litres of sake and a couple of lustful nights reliving his youth.
He started off again, stumping through the trees towards a large boulder poking out of the ground on his left that marked the edge of the red pines. Just beyond it, also benefiting from the prolonged warmth of the hillside’s westward-facing orientation, was a thicket of bamboo. It stretched around the area of pine, a natural barricade, making this the only way in.
Spotting a small hump in the undergrowth at the foot of the nearest pine, Masanori grunted in satisfaction, dropped his bag down on the rock and got down on his knees to brush away the pine needles and humus beneath.
The flat head of a matsutake mushroom peered up at him. ‘Huh,’ old Wooden Knees muttered. ‘A hand job and a litre of sake to wash it down with. Good start.’
As he cupped a hand underneath it to work it out of the ground, something moved in the undergrowth to his left. He caught a little blur of movement out of the corner of his eye.
Masanori froze. A bear, maybe? It was rare that Japanese brown bears attacked hikers unless they were suckling young, but breeding season came in the spring and the summer had been plentiful, so unless it had some kind of disease…
Behind him came the crunch of a footfall, lighter than a bear but too heavy for a deer. Masanori let out a long, slow breath. Could someone have followed him? He cursed under his breath. ‘If that’s one of you, you fuckers, after my crop…’
A sudden zipping sound, like a jacket being undone in a hurry, came from just beyond his shoulder. His head jerked around, his vision blurring as his old eyes took a moment to catch up, then something heavy and black was swinging towards him out of a background of bare forest. Like wings it seemed to open out to fill his whole world, and then something was closing over his head, drawing in around his neck. Masanori scrabbled at his face and tried to roll backwards, but strong hands on his back shoved him forward, his knees knocking together with that familiar wooden clump.
He pushed his hands down on the cool, grainy turf and started to rise.

Something heavy struck the back of his head and his senses switched off like the last electric bulb in a dark hallway.

###

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Restarting on Rise of the Governor

This might surprise some of you (sadden, even...? :-) ) but I've aborted my first attempt at the Tube Riders prequel, The Rise of the Governor, and start more or less over.

Why?, I hear you screaming in your millions ....

Basically, while I was writing the story I wanted to write, I wasn't writing it in the way I wanted to write it. I had decided to get all arty, with a weird title, strange flashbacks, and a gradual build up of emotional turmoil, but I had an epiphany a couple of days ago and realised I wasn't writing a Tube Riders book.

And since the whole point of writing a Tube Riders prequel is to write a Tube Riders book, then I need to ditch the art project and write that instead.

Yes, so most of the characters will be different, but this is the entire history of why Mega Britain is Mega Britain and because only Tube Riders fans care about that I have to write a book for them - for YOU - not for me.

Of course, there will be some crossover, haha. I don't think I could do anything else. But all the elements that made Tube Riders awesome will be in there, in place of all the internal dialogues and emotional turmoil that was starting to take over the manuscript.

It's not all bad news. No words are every wasted and while many of the 30,000 I've written so far won't make it into the final book, I feel like I've been hanging out with the characters a while and I know them a lot better. It's always easier to write a book when you know your setting. And there's lots of kick ass stuff that will move over to the new version - crashed spaceships and gulags and mutant killer hounds and crazy Russian superhumans - I'll just be setting it out in a slightly different way.

Onwards and upwards. I'll keep you posted on progress.

Chris Ward
March 16th 2014

Monday, 10 March 2014

Tube Riders perma-free update and other news

Tube Riders has been perma-free in the US since January 30th and the UK since February 5th. The results so far have been really quite wonderful.

In the US, downloads stand at roughly 17,000. Thanks to a promotion on the mighty Bookbub on March 5th, Tube Riders peaked at #9 in the whole free store, as well as #1 in numerous subcategories, including Teen & Young Adult (yeah, I was a little surprised too...), Science Fiction & Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian and Genetic Engineering.

In the UK, it's success has been more organic, and even now, almost five weeks on, it is still #1 in the Dystopian category. It has slipped to #4 in Science Fiction, although it was #1 for most of February. Total total downloads stand at just over 7000. In fact, I had more in February (6181) than I had in total in the UK in 2012 and 2013 combined, across all my books. Quite a surprise, that.

Sequels sales have been decent if unspectacular, but in general sell-through rates from frees to sequels are usually in the single digit percentages. I'm not going to blag about how much money I've made because I haven't made all that much. I have, however, beat the $15.61 I made in October 2013. So that was nice! :-)

I'd like to thank everyone who has supported Tube Riders on its high speed journey so far. At one point in my life I never thought I'd have a single reader, so to have people downloading it (and hopefully reading it!) in their thousands has exceeded my wildest expectations. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You guys rock.

In other news, I've recently had some sad personal news which I won't share right now, and also some bad news concerning a friend of mine, Brandon Hale. A very fine author (I've read his Day Soldiers book, and it made me both laugh and cry), he has sadly been diagnosed with cancer. He's a great guy and a real fighter, so I have no doubt that he'll win his battle, however, as anyone who knows anything about the screwed up American heathcare system will understand, it's going to near-ruin him to pay for treatment. Therefore some of his friends have set up a charity fund so if anyone is feeling generous please go and donate here. This is a terrible thing to happen to Brandon, just as his career was beginning to take off. And if you have time, please check out Day Soldiers. It's free on Amazon and its a great read.

Back to the writing, progress on the new book is slow and steady. I've passed 26,000 words, which is a good start, but as often happens in my first drafts, I'm struggling to get over a hump, so words aren't flowing as I'd like. However, hills are there to be climbed, and I like climbing hills. I'm sure the pace will pick up soon. I've had to do my share of procrastinating, though, and my way of procrastinating is to write short stories. So far I have two new ones for March. More details on releases when I know them.

Anyway, better get back to the book.

Thanks as always for your support,

Chris Ward
March 10th 2014

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Who wants more dystopian?

Probably a few people who've got totally addicted to Tube Riders ;-) have now finished up the series and are looking for some more stuff to read while they want for my considerable release schedule to roll around again. I've hunted out a few awesome books for you and listed them below. Get stuck in!

 


Selected by Digital Book Today as one of the Best Kindle Books of 2013...
Book 1 of the Day Soldiers series (Books 2, 3, and 4 are also available. Book 5 is coming soon).


A legion of vampires and werewolves has declared war on the human race.

For ten years now, humanity has been at war with the creatures of darkness. The war has changed the world. The day now belongs to humanity and the night belongs to things once thought to exist only in myths and legends... but there is hope. This new enemy has united humanity and an army has stepped forward to protect the light from the darkness. An army of heroes.

The Day Soldiers.

Eighteen year old Lily Baxter always knew the Day Soldiers would be a major part of her life. She had been preparing for it since she was eight. She was ready to go to war. The one thing she wasn't prepared for was the day the war came to her.

Part horror, part comedy, part adventure, Day Soldiers will take you on an exciting ride through a world where monsters are monsters and the only thing they fall in love with is the taste of human blood.
 
 
 
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Life for Riley ends when her young children die in her arms…victims of a global viral outbreak that claims the lives of everyone she’s ever known. Left to fend for herself with only a dog as her companion, she sets out on a journey to find others, leaving notes everywhere she goes…hoping that one day someone will come looking for her. When Riley meets the handsome yet mysterious Connor on the streets of Downtown San Diego, they form a bond unlike either has experienced before. When the things that go bump in the night turn out to be more than nightmares, the trio sets off for the mountains in search of an isolated resort where they can hunker down, away from the ominous shadows of the dead city streets. The peace and tranquility of the woods isn’t enough to keep the darkness away for long though and soon Riley and Connor are forced to accept that the World and the few people left alive in it will never be the same. The shadows of their past may haunt them forever…threatening to destroy what little dreams they have left of a future unless they fight to stay in the light and never lose their hope.

1/9
Family and Friends: The dog and I have left to find my Mom. Most of you know where her place is, the corner of 9th and F. I’ll leave a note there before I move on. Everyone here is…gone. I can’t stay. I’m not sure when or if I will come back here but leave a message anyway.
I hope you find me. – Riley

A Review from Steph Aguirre - "Trish Marie Dawson has done an amazing job of capturing the reader's attention from the very first sentence. The story line does not disappoint: action, adventure, romance, thriller - it fits into all these categories and more! A must have for any avid reader :-)"
 
 
 
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After the virus decimates 99.9% of the world's population, and all traces of humanity along with it, Rhiannon and Will are forced to move beyond their past fame, fortune, and personal demons to rescue a mute girl from the clutches of two warring cults.
--------------------------
"Waking up was never a good idea, and this morning she had momentarily thought she was...before, before them, before this life. If this was what it was to survive the virus, she didn't much like it, but the alternative, killing herself, seemed cheap and easy.
--Rhiannon, Chapter One, AFTER THE VIRUS
--------------------------               
WARNING: this post-apocalyptic love story contains mature situations, violence, and language.
 
 
 
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 And if that's not enough for you, here's the grandaddy...

 
 
A Taste of Tomorrow - The Dystopian Boxed set includes 11 books from some of the biggest names in dystopian literature in a single collection. Each story contains a brand new foreword by its author.

Note to readers: Some stories of the collection are the first book in a series, and others are standalone novels. Page count numbers are listed next to each book for reference.

THE STORIES:

Sand: Part 1 - The Belt of the Buried Gods by Hugh Howey (40 Pages)

Yesterday’s Gone: Season One by Sean Platt and David Wright (503 pages)

Apocalypse Drift by Joe Nobody (314 pages)

Contamination Zero by T.W. Piperbrook (95 pages)

Artificial Evil by Colin F. Barnes (272 pages)

The Tube Riders by Chris Ward (449 pages)

Halfskin by Tony Bertauski (260 pages)

After the Cure by Deirdre Gould (415 pages)

Black Hull by Joseph Turkot (317 pages)

The Man Who Ended the World by Jason Gurley (270 pages)

Gameland: Book 1 - Deep Into the Game by Saul Tanpepper (130 pages)
 
 
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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Blog hop - what I'm working on now

My friend Suzie O’Connell, writer of the very successful Northstar Angels romance series recently tagged me in a blog hop to talk a little about my current projects and what I write. Thanks, Suzie, for tagging me. Here goes …

What am I working on?

My primary work in progress at the moment is a prequel to my Tube Riders Trilogy. The overview title is Rise of the Governor, but I have another title in mind which is underwraps for now. The reason being that I’m still trying to structure the story and I’m unsure how many parts it will end up as. The Tube Riders Trilogy tales place over three years, and came out at 450,000 words. The Governor’s backstory encompasses almost 140 years! It’s likely to be a trilogy, focusing on three key stages in his life. I won’t lie and say that part of me isn’t doing this because of the added financial incentives of writing a trilogy, because in a way it is. However, I never scrimp the reader. Each book will be long, and it will be a complete story, full of action, tragedy, heartbreak, and all the other stuff my fans have come to expect.

In addition to this, I’ve been doing a few other bits and bobs. I write sports stories under a pen name (Michael White), and I’m just finishing up the sixth in the series. After Tube Riders, they’re my biggest sellers these days. On top of that, I recently had a halleluiah moment when I figured out how to do page numbering for paperbacks, at long last. For a long time my personal finances have meant I could only afford to pay a formatter to do my longer novels, but now that I can do internal paperback formatting myself all of my novellas and collections will soon be available in paperback. Just yesterday I commissioned the covers of my comedy novellas (under the name of Michael S. Hunter) to be expanded into paperback covers, so they should be available within a week or two. All my short story collections will soon follow.

And the final thing is the Tube Riders boxed set. I’m currently using my spare moments to do the hyperlinked table of contents. It’s time consuming…

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My main work, The Tube Riders books, is dystopia with trains. That, as far as I can find, is completely unique in the genre. I am a trendsetter, not a follower. I have never once tried to write a book because “that’s what’s popular now”. That’s lame. In years to come people will praise me as the man who made trains cool. I mean, come on, what’s not to like? They’re these massive, noisy, snake-like machines that can go at huge speeds. Tube Riding should be more popular than soccer, because its way more exciting, if a little dangerous…

Why do I write what I write?

I just love writing. Genre isn’t so important for me, because I’ve written in many different genres. My stories do follow a common theme though, and that is that they are low on tech but high on human interactions. So, in a sense, I guess, my writing is about examining the human condition.

How does my writing process work?

It’s gone through a number of transformations over the years, but right now I try to write the first drafts as quickly as possible. I write hard, and I write every day. I work full time, so I can’t write massive amounts, but I aim for around 2,000 words a day. This year so far I’ve written 107,348 words. I’m not happy, but I’m satisfied. And yes, I keep a spreadsheet…! Deadlines and targets are everything for me, so I keep a record of daily/monthly/yearly wordcounts, averages per day/month/year, etc. There’s always a target somewhere to push me on for another couple of hundred words.

Once the draft is done, it goes on the shelf. Everyone works differently, but I like to leave my drafts to mature until I can barely remember the plot. A couple of months at least. Then I can go back to it with a fresh set of eyes. Depending on how bad it is (they’re always bad), I’ll give it three or four edit passes before it goes on to an editor/proofreader. I’m a perfectionist and I trust my own vision. That’s not to say that if an editor, proofreader or beta reader comes back and says they don’t like something I ignore it, because I don’t. I make changes where necessary. But 99% of what you see in the final book is me. 

Then, when it’s published, I’ll have a can of beer, take a day off (during which my free time always feels completely empty) and then I’ll get back into something else. I can’t usually start a new novel off the cuff, so I do things like edit old stories for a day or two, change some covers, update my book details in my other books. Usually within a week or so I can get into the next project.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of people who write fast, but I disagree. In practically every other pastime, the most you practice, the better you get. It’s the same with writing. My output is puny compared to some guys I know, but the more I write the better I write. Also, the more ideas you get, the more seem to come. It’s all part of brain exercise. I’m not overly prolific when it comes to coming up with ideas, but I have more than I can write over the next year already queued up. And by next year … I’ll probably be facing the same problem. It’s a good problem to have.
 
Remember, The Tube Riders is now permanently free. Also, there will exclusive (and free) content coming soon for mailing list subscribers. Sign up here so you don't miss out.

Chris Ward
February 28th 2014

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The latest WIP is finished! (and more news)

Got over the line in the latest book last night. The first draft came in at 94,560 words. It was a lot sparser than some of my other drafts so I'm fully expecting to add a few thousand words in the first revision, but its always nice to get that first draft done.

I started it properly around the end of December, and finished it within two months, which is the fastest I've ever written a full novel. In fact, I wrote it so fast that it almost doesn't feel like a novel at all, but a 300-page short story.

In any case, while its a little rough around the edges it was full-on sci-fi thriller action adventure that should appeal to fans of my Tube Riders series. There's even a little link in there to Tube Riders, suggesting that both stories take place in the same world. It's up to the reader to spot it!

I always thought of myself as a bit of a literary fiction writer but I find writing kickass action sequences and cool plot twists so easy that it's hard to stop writing that kind of book. Still, as long as I'm enjoying myself I'm confident that the readers will be happy too.

So what's up next?

I set myself a goal to write four full novels in 2014, so to have finished the first one by mid-February puts me ahead of the game. I'm going to take a couple of days off to work on some other stuff such as formatting, editing a couple of short stories, and perhaps dredging up one of the trunk novels for a bit of a refresh.

One big Tube Riders thing that's in the works is an ebook boxed set, containing all three novels, all the short stories and an interview with me. If anyone has any questions you'd like me to answer regarding the events in the series, please post them below or PM me through Facebook if they contain spoilers.

And then of course, the next major project will be the Tube Riders prequel, currently titled The Rise of the Governor. While I've been writing the current book I've found it hard to get out of my mind, and although I did a bit of a false start on it last year this time it will be getting my undivided attention.

It's going to be difficult to write in a sense, because the central character is the most hated man in the Tube Riders world. I have to make him a bad guy again but also relatable in his circumstances. While there probably won't be any tube riding in it (I'm saving that for another book for later in the year) it will possibly link to one or two characters from the series as well as introducing a few new ones. It'll be dark, scary and badass. It'll be full of action and heartbreak and all the other cool stuff you've come to expect from the Tube Riders book. I promise you now - this book will be so astonishingly good that it'll make the Tube Riders Trilogy look like it was written by a four-year-old. Trust me on this. The Rise of the Governor is coming. Be afraid, and be very, very excited ....

And in the meantime, remind your friends that Tube Riders book 1 is still perma-free. Ten days as the best"selling" free book in the UK now with almost 4000 downloads. The Brits are loving a bit of chaos on the London Underground, so its time for readers across the pond to catch up. It was recently described as "Dystopian Perfection" in a review, so I hope you're paying attention. I'm bringing the badassness, and I hope you're taking it away into a dark corner and reading the shit out of it.

Laters.

Chris Ward
Feb 17th 2014

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Tube Riders is now perma-free

With Exile and Revenge now published and available, I have had the first book in the series, The Tube Riders, price matched to zero on Amazon. That's right, it's completely FREE.

Last night Amazon USA price matched The Tube Riders to free and with no promotion so far it has risen to #638 in the free store, #1 in Genetic Engineering and #9 in Dystopian. I want that #1 spot in Dystopian so give me a hand by downloading the book and sharing the news on your blogs and Facebook pages.

Thanks very much! Enjoy reading my baby. It was a joy to write, and I hope it will be a joy for you to read.

 

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