Monday, 30 December 2013

Revenge has gone off to the proofreader

Tube Riders: Revenge is in its final stages of production. I hope to be bringing that bad boy to you in the next couple of weeks. If you thought Exile was good, just wait. Revenge takes the Tube Riders story to another level. Possibly the best book I've ever written.

And tomorrow is another year. There will be no respite, I'll be coming out of the blocks and starting immediately on the next book. I can't tell you want it'll be yet, because I haven't decided where to focus my concentration, but I have a number of options available and whichever one I chose it'll be awesome, so look out for that in a couple of months.

In the meantime, my book Man Who Built the World is currently reduced in price, so if you haven't read it and plan to, now is a good time. It's my highest rated book and, if I do say so myself, astonishingly good, haha.

Happy new year to everyone. See you again soon.

Chris Ward
31st December 2013

Friday, 27 December 2013

A Merry Xmas to you all

A very Merry Xmas to you all from me, Chris Ward, here at A Million Miles from Anywhere. I hope you had a great Xmas with your families and whatnot and that you have another great time at New Year.

For me, being in Japan, Xmas was unusual as always. I usually have to work as Xmas isn't a national holiday here, but this year I took the 25th to the 27th off and went up to Hokkaido with the wife for a couple of days for a look around. I'll be posting pictures and stuff on my other blog, Living in Nagano, over the next couple of days.

Back to the books. Exile is out now and available for your reading pleasure. Not being one to keep you waiting long, Revenge is just around the corner. I got it back from the editor a couple of days ago and as I have all of next week off I hope to have it ready to go fairly soon.

In addition to this, on January 6th, The Tube Riders will become available as part of an eleven-book dystopian boxed set featuring several luminaries of the sci-fi and dystopian field. I'm hopeful that this will expose the book to many new fans, as well as introducing Tube Riders fans to other great writers.

Okay, that's all for now.

See you soon,

Chris Ward
December 27th 2013

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Tube Riders: Revenge cover art

Now that Exile is finally out, its time to reveal the covers for Revenge, which will be published in January, all being well.

First up, the ebook -

Those eyes, of course, belong to the Governor, and that thing that looks a bit like a mouth (intentionally so!) is a burning train.

And the paperback -

On the back cover is Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol. Yes, we used the same picture for Head of Words. While there is no overlap in the stories, there is a little overlap in the settings.

Again, these were the work of my regular cover designer, Su Halfwerk at www.novelprevue, and again she did a great job.

I hope you're enjoying Exile and looking forward to Revenge! If readers enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed writing it, then my job is done!

More news soon.

Chris Ward
December 22nd 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Exile release date ...

Okay, the time for talking is done. The Tube Riders: Exile will be released on December 16th 2013, come hell or highwater. There will be no delays or date changes. The book will be out on that day unless I get pancaked by a steamroller or something (I'm touching the wooden tabletop right now so hopefully not!). I'm also intrigued to discover that "to pancake" is actually a verb. Will be using that one...!

In better news, I'm almost done revising Revenge, so you should only have to wait a month or so for that badboy to drop as well.

So, let's have another look at that fine cover ...

DECEMBER 16th 2013

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Edits are done!

Yes, you read that right. I've finished editing Tube Riders: Exile, someone else has finished editing Tube Riders: Exile and the corrections have been made. I've sent it out to a last proofreader for a final check and shortly after it will be available. I can't give you an exact date yet because I haven't decided it, but it will be early to mid December.

I finished the first draft in February, as you might remember me saying. That's nine months of messing around, rewriting, reworking and generally struggling (oh, and I wrote another Tube Riders book in the middle there ...). This was definitely the hardest book I've ever written. I think, though, that it came out okay. Some betas have said its as good as the first book, others have said its better. I'd settle for almost as good. I guess the readers will decide.

The return of Marta Banks and the Tube Riders is coming soon ....

And in the meantime, if you haven't read it yet, The Tube Riders (book 1 in the series) will be $0.99 until the release of Exile.

Buy it here or click the pic.

Chris Ward
November 24th 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Update November 23rd

I just got back from a two week teachers' conference up in the mountainous hills above Matsumoto in Nagano pref, Japan. Had an interesting time although it was a bit chilly.

Came back down the mountain to two bits of good news. The first was that England were smashing Australia in the cricket, and the second was that my editor had finished with Exile. Even better, he thought it rocked. For the last ten months of battle I've been worried it would suck, but that bodes well. Now just to make the corrections and change one or two minor things and then its off to the formatter.

More news coming soon ...

Chris Ward

November 23rd 2013

Monday, 18 November 2013

What I did today Monday 18th of November

Pretty quiet day at work today. Had to do speaking tests for one of my classes and then some speech contest practice after school. In the evening I went to the local insurance place to get a discount voucher for my second cat's neutering operation. Of course, in true Japan style, even though I went to the place the vet told me to go to, they told me I had to go to another place halfway across the city. It being 6 p.m., I didn't really have time, so it'll have to wait. Sometimes you think it would be easier to just pay for these things.

In writing related news, I got the cover back for Tube Riders: Revenge. It looks awesome, but I won't be revealing it until after Exile comes out. So stay tuned for that. I also got a few more chapters of the third draft of Revenge done, and its looking great. One chapter felt like the best thing I'd ever written. It was just perfect. Pretty sure no one will notice, but well ... :-) Two more hours of painting ceilings took up most of my writing time unfortunately. Tomorrow I'm working until 9pm, and Wed/Thurs I'm going to an English teacher's conference, so there won't be much writing for a few days, unfortunately. More updates soon ...

Chris Ward
18th November 2013

Sunday, 17 November 2013

What I did today Sun 17th November

I've not had a lot to say on the blog recently so I thought I'd change tack a little bit for a while and use it more like a diary. I'm not sure how much my boring life will interest people but here are a few of my thoughts for today.

So, what did I do today?

First up, I went over to my new (old) house and continued the renovation work on the man cave / office room. This is a tiny room about 2.5m square at the back of the house, facing on to the neighbour's tiny back garden. It's wood framed so the other day I went out and bought what I thought looked like a nice colour but what actually turned out to be a poo-brown. Still, once I had the paint I thought I might as well use it, so now the wooden frames and the crossbeams of the ceiling are a fetching warm brown. Figuring white would go well with it, yesterday I painted the inner window frame (also wood) and this morning I was putting on a base layer of white paint across the ceiling with the hope of it brightening the room up a bit. Next week I'm hoping to be ready to wallpaper and then put some kind of carpeting down.

After a very brief lunch I had to go to a high school speech contest at a local college. For those who don't know, my day job is as any assistant language teacher in a Japanese high school, in Nagano, a smallish city in the Japan Alps. In this contest I had one student from one school doing the speech, and two from my other school (my "visit" school - I go there on Tuesdays and Thursdays) doing the recital. My speech student came second, which was nice. My other students didn't place unfortunately, but their pronunciation was beautiful, and I think if the judges weren't so taken in by all the wild gestures and dramatics of some of the other students they would have placed higher. Still, they're only first years so its good experience if they do it next year.

One thing I learned, actually, from the speech contest and my reactions to some of the OTT speeches, is that you can't lie to your audience. As a speech coach I insist on students acting natural, being believable. If a student is doing a speech about a trip to Germany, I want to believe that they have actually been there. Same with fiction. I want to believe it isn't fiction. I want to believe it's something that actually happened.

Afterwards, I came home, put out the trash and went for a jog. Up to 2010 I used to run half-marathons quite regularly, and actually completed Nagano full marathon (which half killed me). In the last 18 months I've been writing like a demon with over half a million words chalked up, about the same I produced in the eight or nine years previously, but one thing all that sitting around does it get you fat. I've gained a good five kilos in that time, so I figured it was time to start taking it off. I did about 5km in 31 minutes which is nothing special but a decent start. Got a feeling I'm going to hurt tomorrow ...

And so if you've trawled this far through my not particularly interesting day I'll give you the best writing updates that I can right now. Exile is finished and with the editor. I'm hoping to get it back within the next week or so. Revenge is also finished. I'm currently going through it for the third time, mostly fine-tuning and making sure the character motivation is right. For example, for a character to decide to do something major they have to be seen to be coming to that decision, they can't just do it without prior warning. I've added in a couple of extra chapters. The cover is almost finished too. I'm expecting it back in a couple of days. I've seen a draft and its proper badass. I'll be keeping it under wraps until after Exile is out, though.

I've also be thinking about plans for next year. I want to keep stepping up the writing and produce more books, so I've set a tentative plan to write four novels, each taking two months with the interim months for editing and stuff. I'd also like to get out a trunk novel, so best case scenario would be five new novels. What they'll be, I can't say. While the Tube Riders main story is done, there is plenty of scope for further stories within the same world, so I'll be thinking about some of those. I also have half a horror novel I want to finish. I'd like to do another novella in my Beat Down series under a pen name. No one buys them (the first is free on Amazon) but they're fun to write. We'll see.

Anyway, there's still an hour or so left in the day so I need to go and see what Marta Banks and friends are up to ...

Chris Ward
Sunday 17th November

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The bloopers reel

Yes, I'm a borderline genius and yes, The Tube Riders is a book that far too few people have been lucky enough to read, but my first drafts can still be pretty ropey. I just finished the second draft of Revenge (Exile is on the editor's desk, if you're wondering) and here's a few shockers that I picked out. See if you can figure out what the hell these sentences were supposed to be ...

... basically, his character was floored.

The room was furnished with old but adequate tables and conches.

The road was bumpy from tree routes.

... rolling over out of site.

In one bottom corner of the slap ...

Her voice had blasted out of that speaker, so full of home.

... the family of his surroundings ...

... doing a sweep across the sitting.

Behind him came a rustle of moment.

... for one many to find three people.

His face was read and flustered.

… as he shook off his own cuffs, not even looked …

Yeah, I'm pretty embarrassed, haha. But the book absolutely ROCKS, and it will be following closely on the heels of Exile once that one is out. No more 18 month waits, I promise. I learned from all the issues I had while writing Exile and so the first draft of Revenge was significantly tighter from the start. I have to add a couple of bits in there, but nothing much.

Dates coming soon.

Chris Ward
7th November 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Revenge teaser snippet

Okay, so this is jumping the gun a bit and I know I said I'd shut up until Exile was done, but there is a bit of news. Exile is now in my editor's queue, as in, I've finished what I needed to do with it and its gone for its polishing. I've also commissioned the cover for Tube Riders: Revenge, which I'm now working through in second draft.

And as always when I go over a book I've had on the shelf for a while, I come across little sections that I just love, so I thought I'd share one with you today, from fairly early in the book.

I'm not saying who this character is. You can guess, but I'm keeping my lips sealed for now ...

Slight vibrations buzzed in his hands, and he knew that in a lab somewhere they were testing the electrical connections in case he was having second thoughts. They always did this; the government was like a little monkey on his back whispering into his ear, reminding him what it would feel like if he disobeyed.
He didn’t want to pull off his clothes, but he was tired, it was warm, and he never slept well in his boots. He unlaced them and slid them down over his feet, pulling off the black, holey socks to reveal one normal human foot and one plastic molded lump with rounded outcrops for toes. It fused seamlessly with his skin just below the ankle, the synthetic skin that covered the flexible plastic barely discernible from human skin except for its greater elasticity, its hairlessness, and that he felt nothing when he touched it except a tug on the skin of his lower leg.
He hated the foot. He didn’t care about the scars that cross-crossed his body because they scared people away and no woman that he wanted would turn down the money he could offer, but the foot … it was his leash. It reminded him every moment of every day that he was a government dog and even the casual freedom that anarchists and dissenters claimed within the walls of London was not his to share.

He rolled over and pulled a blanket over him, hiding it.

Chris Ward
29th October 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Gravedigger

Something a little random for you today.

I'll have news on the next Tube Riders release very soon - yes, really! - but in the meantime I was going through the files and found something I'd almost forgotten about which you might find interesting.

Fans of the Tube Riders will know what happened at the end of the first book, and so of course the second book takes place mostly in France. I wasn't quite sure what the Tube Riders would find there, so I did a number of sketches - outtakes, mostly - of the beginning of the novel, envisaging France in a number of different ways. In the end I played it pretty safe, but for a while I wanted it to be this nuclear holocaust post-apocalyptic wasteland.

I'd just bought the brilliant new Mark Lanegan CD, and the first track is called "The Gravedigger's Song". What an awesome name for a character, I thought. So, I decided to have a "gravedigger" of some kind in Exile.

What follows below is an aborted beginning to Exile, featuring the character of the Gravedigger. The character actually survived into the book proper, however, for better or worse, the landscape did not.

Chris Ward
October 21st 2013

The Gravedigger

   It had been another long, tiring day of burying the dead.

   To the west, a crimson pool was seeping like blood across what was left of the afternoon sky. The gravedigger cocked one eye heavenward, curled a lip back to reveal dirty metallic teeth held crookedly by failing, inflamed gums that mirrored the fiery colour of the sky, and drew in a deep ragged breath.

   ‘Ahhh!’ he roared, his stomach contracting as if he meant to vomit, the single chilling word ejected from his throat like a foreign body, as one arm rose the rusty, muddied spade high up into the air like a challenge to the fading sun.

   From a copse of trees to the east came a cacophony of bird cries. With a flurry of wings a flock of crows took to flight, little more than black shadows as they raced from east to west across in front of him.

   The gravedigger slammed the spade down into the ground like a defiant Roman legionary planting a standard in the face of an enemy onslaught. His other arm shot up, ramrod straight, two remaining fingers either side of cauterized stubs marking the fleeing birds like a gun sight.

   There was a bright flash followed by twin squawks, part of pain, part of surprise.  Two birds fell dead out of the sky, the sound of their landing hidden by the terrified cries of the others.

   The gravedigger chuckled deep in his throat. He looked down to see that he’d planted the spade into the breastbone of a decomposed corpse, breaking open the rotted chest cavity with the force of the blow. The man – he assumed it had been a man from the broader shoulders – lay three feet below the surface of the ground on the top of a stack of other bodies the gravedigger had been charged with burying today. There were eight in the grave, the gravedigger’s lucky number, because, back in the day, that was the number of times he’d got laid, but it made a good, even number in a six foot pit in any case.

   And the animals climbed in two by two . . .

He’d dug, filled and covered four other graves today. A quiet day as it went. Twice this week he’d dug ten, and as the disease showed no signs of abating, he might top that yet. Monday tended to be a quiet day because most people died on weekends, it seemed.

He stomped off towards where he’d seen the birds fall. If he was lucky they’d still be warm, as he liked them. If not, he’d eat them anyway.

He heard a roaring sound to the south and habit made him glance back. It was just one of the trains, rocketing across the countryside, cutting through the hills like a spade through mud, along the main Paris to Nice trunk line. Damn, those things flew.  Steam locomotives, too, billowing clouds of stinky shit out behind them like a dirty cloud of fart. Back and forth from the fucking cities like yoyos, ignoring all the shit and the filth in the countryside as if it didn’t exist.

And people said Britain had it bad.

The gravedigger reached the spot where the birds had fallen. One of them was still twitching, so he ate that one first, stuffing it into the metallic mess of his mouth and ripping through it, feathers, beak, bones, everything. He would puke up later what his body didn’t want.

He did the same with the second bird, although that one wasn’t as tasty, being dead as it was. Still, it was food, better than most of the country folk ever got.

Not for the first time in his life the gravedigger thanked those scientist bastards for messing around with his insides. He felt like an outcast and society had labelled him so, but in these war-torn times a body more resilient than the rest was proving a godsend.

The gravedigger turned back towards the graves. In a hollow somewhere beyond he could see wisps of smoke rising from what was left of the nearest village. A plane had come over yesterday and nailed it, which the gravedigger didn’t really care too much about because it gave him plenty more stiffs to bury, and plenty more commission from the government as a result.

He decided to quit for the day. The human part of his mind still felt tiredness, and shoveling could be draining work, particularly in hard ground. Back at the graveside he hefted a bag containing various tools, some spare clothes and a few trinkets he had collected over the past weeks over his shoulder, tucked the spade under one arm and headed off in the direction of the village. There, if he could find a house with a roof he would find shelter, as most families had fled and those that hadn’t wouldn’t refuse a gravedigger hospitality. Some of the old values still stood, after all.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Some nice new reviews for Tube Riders

Just like all writers, I love getting (nice) reviews.

Tube Riders had been a bit of a review black hole since June, but since the sampler of part one went perma-free at the beginning of September I've had a small clutch of them.

Tami H said -

This book had me reading until the sun came up and even then I did not want to put this book down. Amazing plot with new twists every five pages I would recommend this book to anyone

(five stars)

Margaret Falcon said -

I highly recommend this book. The characters are engaging and dynamic. The story line as lots of twists and turns. Very good read!

(five stars)

Everyones acritic said -

I gave this book 4 stars because it was original, entertaining to read, and gave me a new way to ride the subway! Crazy kids...they'll try anything just because the world is ending!

(four stars)

and Greg Strandberg posted one on the sampler itself -

 This book grabbed me right away with the fast and action-packed train sequence in the beginning. The dialogue and character interactions kept things moving after that. It's clear that Ward likes to put some off-putting dialogue to work, which adds a gritty realism to the world he's created. Looks like a good start to a fun series!

(four stars)

You guys are all awesome. Thanks so much.

I don't usually post anything about reviews because they're not for me but for other readers, and I believe that all readers are entitled to their opinion, good or bad. Provided the review is fair (and actually about my book) then I welcome all and any. Sometimes, though, on bad days when the books aren't selling, a few nice reviews can really cheer you up.

If anyone's wondering, I'm editing Exile. About halfway at the moment. Still hoping to have both Exile and Revenge out by Xmas. This weekend I spent Saturday cutting rice and Sunday concreting, so unfortunately I have a busy "real" life, but I'm doing my best. Bear with me!

Don't forget to sign up to the mailing list above to make sure you know as soon as the next book is out.

Chris Ward
September 29th 2013

Sunday, 22 September 2013

End of the Road - free anthology

If you're interested in discovering new authors, I was recently published in a rather fine anthology featuring a whole host of really good writers across a variety of genres. From huge sellers to unknowns, there's a massive scope of talent in there and the best thing is that it's completely free.

You can pick up a free copy from Amazon US here or Amazon UK here.


End of the Road

Roads end. They begin somewhere, too. In between, all manner of things happen: friendship, betrayal, horror and maybe even joy. For some, the End of the Road brings love and happiness, for others agony and suffering, and for a precious few, sorrow may lead to something revelatory. The potholes and pitfalls found in this anthology are many, but for every character, there is an end of the road.

This road ends in a collection of short stories by 31 of the most gifted writers of our time, with stories from action and mystery superstars Russell Blake, Traci Tyne Hilton and Mike Meyer; romance stars Jeannette Raleigh, C A Newsome, Suzie O'Connell, Kathleen Steed and Anna J.McIntyre; and from cutting edge science fiction and fantasy authors Saxon Andrew, Stephen Arseneault, John Daulton, and JRC Salter; post-apocalyptic and dystopian authors Brandon Hale, Scott Langrel, Dale Roberts and Jess Mountifield. Intended for lovers of short fiction everywhere, the End of the Road is a must read for anyone intent on keeping current with the literary scene.

Contributing authors:
Brandon Hale
Robert Thomas
Saxon Andrew
Russell Blake
James Rozoff
Anna J. McIntyre
Donna B. McNicol
Dale Roberts
Randall Morris
James Rozoff
Alison Blake
Stephen Arseneault
Jeanette Raleigh
L. S. Burton
Jess Mountifield
Shirley Bourget
C. A. Newsome
J R C Salter
Michael Meyer
E. B. Boggs
David A. Cuban
Scott Langrel
Traci Tyne Hilton
John Daulton
Kathleen Steed
Chris Ward
Jacques Antoine
Suzie O'Connell
Sherrie Giddens
Thomas Jenner
Angeline Perkins

Chris Ward
September 23rd 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

Back to work ...

Just got back from a little vacation in the UK to spend time with my mother on her 60th birthday and see my sister's new baby. Back now at the computer desk and ready to get going on getting the next books ready.

This is a view of the valley I grew up in, Crackington Haven, during a rare break in the rain.

Stay tuned for news of release dates. I'm pretty much going to shut up now and get the next Tube Riders books done.

Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list here.

Chris Ward
21st September 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Tube Riders: Part One - London is now free

For anyone wanting to test drive Tube Riders, part one of the first novel, approx. 215 pages, is now free on Amazon.

Using the original artwork from the first edition of the novel, I hope that this will allow readers to decide whether they want to continue reading the remainder of the series.

Download for free from Amazon US here or Smashwords here.

Happy reading!

Chris Ward
7th September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

And we're done ...

Yesterday I hammered out the last five thousand words of Tube Riders: Revenge, finishing the book up at ten minutes to midnight.

Then I had a little cry, and after that I went to buy a beer. Then I went to bed and at three thirty a.m. I got back up to feed the cat. Such is life.

That's it, done. You have no idea how I feel right now. Partly empty, with a huge gap in my free time that I'm going to fill for a couple of days doing absolutely nothing (okay, so I'm going to read a book, or maybe edit a couple of short stories, or write one or two more ... okay, you get it, I have no trouble filling my free time, "free" is a concept that doesn't really exist), and partly relieved. It's over. It's finished.

I wrote the short story Tube Riders in 2002. It was published in a special edition of a little magazine called Not One of Us in 2007 and I later published it myself in my collection Ms Ito's Bird and Other Stories.

In 2009, looking for a novel idea, I turned my mind back over my short stories and thought that the one with the kids hanging off the sides of a train might work. I got a piece of A3 paper, covered it with lines and scribbles, and what would become a 600 page novel was born.

It was originally never intended to be a trilogy. I don't like series - I don't like reading them and I don't much like writing them either. I actually prefer books which have a single enclosed story, but I found at the end of The Tube Riders that it was just part one of what would need to be a wider story if I was to really show what happened to the likes of Marta, Switch, Paul, Owen, Dreggo and even the horrible old Governor.

Until I come to self-publish it in March 2012 I had no real motivation to write any more. I had failed to sell it to publishers despite it being everything a commercially successful book needs, and I felt pretty much down about the whole writing thing. At pretty much my lowest ebb as a writer, I decided to give it a shot out in the world and it did okay. Not spectacular, but the reviews were decent, and finally I really felt like I needed to complete the story.

I wrote Tube Riders: Exile (TR#2) between September 2012 and February 2013. I hadn't really written anything in three years up to that point, and while its got a good story I was a bit ring rusty. I worked for a while on editing it, but then released that the third part in the trilogy, Revenge, was calling out to be written. So I shelved Exile for a while and got to work.

Thanks to the encouragement from several writer friends, I busted my ass to get this book done. And in less than three months - the quickest I have ever written a novel - I got to the end.

At 132,010 words, the first draft is a lot short than both book one and book two, but I tend to add a lot of detail in when I rewrite, so it'll probably end up a similar length. I think it's a good book. It's tighter, leaner and is absolutely relentless. There's no fat on this book at all, and I think it's a worthy end to the trilogy. I as certainly cut up writing the final scene yesterday.

So what happens now?

First, I'm going on holiday, next week in fact. I'm going to stay away from writing and stay away from the internet as much as possible - unlikely, but I'll try ... - and just relax for once. At the same time, though, I'm going to reread book one and make any minor changes that I feel necessary. I won't be changing the plot, but its my book and with the series now finished there might be one or two places I feel that clarification is necessary so I'll do what has to be done. Plus, a polish never hurts. Apologies to anyone who's read it who feels the need to read it again - you can get a free update from Amazon.

Then I'm going to begin the biggest task - revising Exile. I'm feeling sharp now and in control so it shouldn't take too long. Then, now the cover is done and the formatting has been commissioned I'll be putting it out for your appraisal. And then it'll be on to Revenge.

I want both books out by Christmas. That's the plan. I want all those little Tube Rider computer pixels to be filling virtual stockings on Xmas Day, and then you can all find out what happens in the end to Marta Banks and her friends. It'll shock you, it'll horrify you, and it'll make you gasp with excitement. It'll be worth it, I promise.

In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me. The story is told. That's the hard part. Now I just have to get it cleaned and dressed and ready to step out into the world.

It was quite some ride ...

Chris Ward
3rd September 2013

Saturday, 31 August 2013

An update on Tube Riders: Revenge

I've been writing like a pack mule these last two months, 70,000 words in July and now 73,000 in August, the two biggest months of my entire life by some distance. I've had barely any time to promote the books already out and my sales have dropped off a cliff. However, Tube Riders: Revenge, the book I wasn't even planning to start until September (oh, the pointlessness of making plans, haha) is in the closing stages. I'm sitting at around 120,000 words, and I'm hoping to finish it in the next week. That's right, the next week. I can't guarantee it, but it's looking like it'll wrap in about 15,000 words, which is only 2k a day. Easy ...

After that, I'm going on a short vacation, and when I get back I will be jumping on the editing treadmill to get both Exile and Revenge out as soon as possible. I'm not just doing this for the readers, I'm doing this for me, because I really want to see these two books out of the door. They're long, and they've taken up the vast majority of my free time for the last year. I've become a bit of a hermit, I've put on far too much weight (I'm not joking, like 4kg, haha) and I really want to see the Tube Riders story, at least this part of it, over. I'm right up there in the dying embers, and its great. Cool stuff is happening, and the end is in sight.

That's all for now.

Be on the lookout!

Chris Ward
September 1st 2013

Saturday, 10 August 2013

An update on the Tube Riders series

Yesterday I finished Chapter Thirty of Tube Riders: Revenge, the final part in the Tube Riders Trilogy. It's currently totalling just under 80,000 words, so based on the lengths of the previous two books its about halfway done.

My original plan was to start writing Revenge in September, write it over the winter and then publish it next summer. My current plan - one that is pretty likely at my current rate of progress - is to finish it IN September.

I've had a couple of angry emails asking when Tube Riders: Exile (Tube Riders Trilogy #2) will be out, because as readers of this blog will know, I finished writing the draft way back in February. I've done a fair bit of editing work on it, but Revenge was crying out to be written and I had to answer the call.

It does make me feel a bit stupid to be talking about the progress on Book 3 when Book 2 is still sitting on my hard-drive, but finishing Revenge before I release Exile actually makes a lot of sense for me.

The Tube Riders was written in 2009 and was originally a standalone book. I had no plans to make it into a series. The Tube Riders had to escape Mega Britain, that was about it. However, the wider world required a longer, more complete story.

As a writer I offer just enough "world" for the reader to expand it themselves. However, when I started writing Exile and now Revenge (a lot of which takes place in London again) I needed to expand the world a bit myself. I needed to show a bit more about life inside Mega Britain, and there were times when I'd write something in Revenge and realise I needed to clarify it in Exile for continuity's sake. In hindsight, writing the whole trilogy before releasing any of them would have been the best option (but probably one that would have driven me mad). As I wrote Exile and then Revenge, I found myself needing to tweak the odd line in the original book in order to keep the continuity the same. The most major amendment was that I made a very minor character (so minor that most readers will have forgotten this person, it was a blink-and-you-miss-it thing) two or three years older, because I wanted them to become a major character in Revenge. It didn't fit before, but now it does. Forgive me.

A lot of writers rush things. They bang out new books once a month and write series after series. I don't know if I'll ever write a series again after this. Before Tube Riders I was all about the standalone, and while no one buys my standalone books I've always preferred writing a story that was contained in a single volume. That's the artist in me talking, not the bookseller. The two engage in fisticuffs regularly.

I want the Tube Riders series to make my name and I want people to be reading it and recommending it in ten, fifteen years time. I want it to be good.

To that end I'll take as long as necessary, but I do think that its quite possible I can have both books out by Christmas. Providing I don't run into any major plot walls in Revenge, I should be able to finish it in September. Then I'll take October to edit Exile again, and November to edit Revenge. In December I'll drink beer and go snowboarding. Something like that.

So bear with me. Both books will be with you soon. But in the meantime, keep the angry mail coming. It's really quite addictive to know people care so much about your books. I can see why George RR Martin releases his six years apart. Unfortunately I don't have his patience.

Back to the writing desk ...

Chris Ward
11th August 2013

Friday, 9 August 2013

Head of Words paperback now available

It's taken a while for me to get everything finalised but I'm pleased to announce that the paperback version of Head of Words is now available.

The formatting was done by Suzie O'Connell at Indie Proud, and the cover by Su Halfwerk at Novel Prevue.

The book can be purchased in the US here and in the UK here. I am immensely proud of this book. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Chris Ward
August 9th 2013

Head of Words 

 Bliss … or is it?

Life is peachy for twenty-something Daniel Barker, who lives with his offbeat group of friends in a small flat in Bristol. From the eccentric Franz to the dominatrix Polly and the psychotic Shane, they all bring colour and excitement to his life. Together they are family, inseparable.

But as space reaches a premium and tensions begin to rise, Dan's whole world threatens to implode around him.

The real nightmare is about to begin …

Veering from brutal to comic via tragedy, disaster and love, Head of Words is the story of one man’s path to understanding upon a rollercoaster of life that threatens to both destroy him and set him free.

What the reviewers say:

The writing is funny, touching, moving and absolutely compelling. Head of Words is one of those books you cannot put down.  - Scott Bury

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Words are my Playground ...

... which means you'll have to wait a little bit longer for Tube Riders: Exile.

Sorry about that. Let me explain why.

It's done, it's drafted, it's had a couple of good edit passes. It needs perhaps two more and then it'll be ready. No major problems.

And then a friend suggested a little wordcount challenge - 70,000 words in July.

I finished Exile's first draft in March. After that I got to work editing an older book called Head of Words, and once that was published I got into editing Exile. Pretty much March, April, May and June was all editing.

Writing is fun, but editing is work, and it tires me out. I needed new words, so I signed up for the challenge.

I'd been itching to write Tube Riders: Revenge for a while. As always, I made a plan to start in September, after Exile was released and after I'd done some other stuff. As always, I decided to change my plans.

Now the good news.

I started writing Revenge, and now I can't stop. I'm right in there, and I'm doing it everyday, slowly letting it unfold in front of me. I wrote The Tube Riders in 2009, failed to get an agent for it, then left it on a shelf for three years until I came to self-publish it in March, 2012. And after it started to get a little success, I knew I had to go back to it and finish the trilogy.

Exile was a hard book to write. I was just getting back into the world and getting to know the characters. I like it and I think it's a good book, but Revenge was always going to be the absolute apocalypse of the series, a big, fat steamroller of a book that would blow everything else in the genre out of the water and leave people with chin-burn from their jaws scraping along the ground.

I really, really, wanted to write that book.

After I finished Exile, I was right where I wanted to be. I had the characters where I wanted them, and I felt ready to get stuck in. Exile is a complete book with a complete story arc, but it's still only part of a wider story, and I felt like I wanted to get on with that story. Revenge starts a little while after Exile finishes - I'm not telling you how much, but its enough to allow a few side stories, possibly featuring different characters, if I want - but for me I couldn't waste any more time. I thought I'd just write a few chapters, and see how it went.

And it's going swimmingly. I've got 40,000 words down so far, roughly 14 chapters. Ideas are flashing into my mind on a daily basis. I wrote Exile over seven months, and there were whole weeks when I didn't work on it because I was finding it difficult to see the road ahead. With Revenge I've been writing several pages a day, and even though I've hardly done any plotting at all, the stories of all the various characters are revealing themselves quite willingly.

So the bad news is that you'll have to wait a little longer for Exile, but the good news is that Revenge will be along shortly after. Bear with me. It'll be worth it, I promise.

Chris Ward
24th July 2013

Monday, 1 July 2013

Exile is officially delayed ...

Okay, I know I said July, but you're going to have to hang on a little bit longer for Tube Riders: Exile. As always, I jumped the gun a bit when I said July and overestimated just how long it would take me to finish off the editing. Rest assured that I'm working on the book every day, and when it's ready it'll be a stormer.

Basically, the book is finished, but I'm currently working through it for the third time. What I'm doing this time is tightening the text, making the characterisation stronger, working out a few issues of character motivation and improving both the tension and pacing. I don't want this to just be a good book, I want this to be an excellent book, one that will have you dying to read part three (which I've also started writing - yeah, I tend to multitask, I'm not good at focusing on any one thing all the time ...).

So, you have my apologies, but I won't be going into any George RR Martin territory. This will be a month or two, we're not talking years. Back when I finished the first draft I was planning on August, but I hoped to get it out a bit earlier. August is far more likely but I'll say September just to be safe ... I hope!

Thanks always for your support,

Chris Ward
July 1st 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wool by Hugh Howey - My Review

Setting the world alight right now is this dystopian masterwork by indie turned international literary star Hugh Howey. Just like grunge and Brit pop, I got interested at the tail end of things, getting around to reading it long after everyone else had finished it and moved on. Next up, Harry Potter.

Mucking about aside, this was a fine read. I don't really know the history of its publication beyond that it was originally an indie novella that went interstellar and spawned four more novellas to continue the story, putting Hugh Howey on the map and no doubt making him a fortune in the process. Apparently it's on Ridley Scott's desk. I'd probably fork out for a ticket to see it.

While it was separated into five sections, it felt like three stories to me. Part one, Holston, tells the story of a disillusioned sheriff a few hundred years into the future who lives in this vast subterranean silo with five thousand other people. His wife has been put to "cleaning", meaning she committed a crime and was sent outside into the toxic air in a kind of space suit to slowly die. Like everyone else sent to cleaning before her, his wife wiped clean the little video cameras that show a view of the outside world. She said she wasn't going to, but she did. Holston wants to know why.

I thought Part One was really good. Holston was an interesting character and the slow mystery of his surroundings was very intriguing.

Part Two, Proper Gauge, focused on his superior, Mayor Jahns, as she travelled into the "down deep", the area at the very bottom of the silo, to look for (highlight to see spoiler) a new sheriff. I didn't find this part nearly as interesting. It was basically a visual exploration of the silo through Jahns' eyes. Not a lot happened until the last couple of chapters.

Parts Three, Four and Five felt like the main story. They concerned Juliette, the new sheriff, who was quickly put to cleaning for a vague crime to stop her getting too deep into the secrets of the silo and the world outside. Juliette, however, manages to break the chain of all the cleaners before her and (spoiler) survives.

The rest of the book centres around what happens to Juliette outside while inside the silo two rival factions clash.

Essentially Wool is a mystery story, as a group of characters try to discover the truth about their world and the secrets that have been hidden from them. It gets really good once Juliette gets outside, and we begin to discover what's going on. There were lots of little reveals to keep you interested and it was expertly done.

There were a few things that bothered me a little. I found the naivety of some of the characters trapped inside the silo to be a little far-fetched during the uprising. They just kind of walked into battle without any real plan. Also, of a silo full of thousands of people, only a few seemed to be involved.

There were one or two other plot holes, not least when Lukas received a strange radio transmission which appeared to have nothing to do with what was actually going on with Juliette, and the ending was way too upbeat. It fitted with the story but it felt a little off compared to the dark tone of the rest of the story.

Juliette was an excellent character and her story would make a good movie. Holston and Jahns were pretty much forgotten about by the end, and I think in any kind of adapation you could keep Holston in one of those little prologue segments while dropping Jahns altogether and getting to the meat of the story.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot and would probably read the sequel. It was well written throughout and Howey had some really nice turns of phrase, particularly early on in the book. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes dystopian fiction.

Chris Ward
24th June 2013

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Writing update June

Gone a little quiet on the blog but that's only because I've been busy. So what's been going on and what are my upcoming plans?

Of course, everything is subject to change, but that's just because I absolutely suck at keeping to deadlines. Small problem of having a day job ...

So, what I'm doing right now ...

First of all, I'm waiting for Exile to come back from it's beta readers. Providing there are no major issues, I'll be sending it off for an edit and then hopefully publishing it in mid-July. At least that's the plan ...

In new projects, I've started working on Tube Riders: Revenge. I had planned to start in September so for once I'm way ahead of schedule. I'm taking my time about it though, letting it build up slowly. I'm on to chapter three, and so far so good. The nice thing about writing slow is that the story really builds in your mind before you write it. I already have lots of ideas for what's going to happen.

It's likely that the best part of the next year will be working on Tube Riders-based books. However, I don't one to be one of those writers whose whole career is defined by one series, nor do I still want to be writing Tube Riders Volume 35 in twenty years time. I started out as a writer of stand alone books and in the long term that's what I want to be known for. However, when you're a self-published writer the easiest way to build a fanbase is to do it around a brand, so that's what I'm doing at the moment. I'm not saying that Tube Riders won't end up as five, six, seven books, because it might - it's my story and it'll be written as long as it needs to be. I have other stories, though, and at some point those also need to be written, and I certainly won't be stretching Tube Riders out just to make an extra buck.

Outside of new words, I'm currently in the process of redoing the paperback for Man Who Built the World and finally getting around to doing the one for Head of Words. It's always difficult to motivate myself to do the paperbacks as I sell about one per month and it's a massive hassle to sort out all the formatting. Still, in the event that I actually start to get successful at this I want to have them all in place. I'm learning all the time, and what I thought was correct last year might not be correct this - for example, I recently found out that Times New Roman was designed for column-based texts and is a strain on the eyes over a long period of reading. Therefore I'm changing all the fonts into Garamond, which is commonly used in paperbacks. Of course, changing everything into Garamond means all the headers and footers are thrown off. Cue lots of wasted time ...

So the next thing you need to look forward to is the release of Tube Riders: Exile. I will post a definite release date once I have one.

Until then ...

Chris Ward
June 12th 2013

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Tube Riders: Revenge early teaser snippet

Yeah, so I know Exile isn't even out yet, but it's coming ... in the meantime I've already started working on Tube Riders: Revenge, way ahead of schedule. And I'm getting a little arty with it so far. Here' s a very short teaser snippet. I wrote this yesterday.

(no spoilers, don't worry - not even any names)

"The mirror had probably never been whole. It was simply a patchwork of other mirrors glued together to function as one. It was difficult to look into it without constantly shifting your head, searching for a fuller view, one that did not, could not exist.

Rather like my life, she thought. Comprised of fragments. Hundreds of fragments all glued together, pretending to be one."

Friday, 31 May 2013

Tube Riders: Exile blurb

Live together, die together ...

Having narrowly escaped the Governor's savage Huntsmen, Marta Banks and the other surviving Tube Riders are on the run in northern France. Trapped inside a government-assigned quarantine zone, they search for a way out of a bleak countryside littered with abandoned worker robots and haunted by sinister monks, while at the same time a far deadlier threat than any they have faced before is searching for a way in ...

From the towering spires of Mont St Michel through the dark horrors of the Paris Catacombs to the treacherous peaks of the French Alps, The Tube Riders: Exile is an epic continuation of Chris Ward's Tube Riders series.

JULY 2013

Monday, 27 May 2013

Tube Riders: Exile covers

Okay, you've waited long enough and I've been getting itchy to show them, so here are the covers for the next installment in the Tube Riders series.

Firmly established as the heroine of The Tube Riders series from part one, I decided it would be nice to put Marta Banks on the cover of part two. My cover designer, Su Halfwerk, did a fantastic job of creating the Marta from my imagination. I would go as far to say that the girl on the front of Exile IS Marta, from her dreadlocked hair to the look in her eyes.

Here's the paperback.

When you put the two covers next to each other there's a definite bit of theme being carried through. I'm very pleased. I'm looking forward to adding a third book as soon as possible.

Of course, if you're a blogger, feel free to share these pictures anywhere you like!

Right, back to editing. Not long now ...

Chris Ward
May 26th 2013

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Man Who Built the World is a bestseller

Thanks to the Tuesday's promotion on Kindle News and Tips, The Man Who Built the World became my first book to reach #1 in a paid category. It achieved #1 in Dark Fantasy books and held the position for about a day.

It's total peaks were -

#1Dark Fantasy books

#4 Dark Fantasy ebooks

#50 Horror books

#2691 overall

The Tube Riders holds the record for my highest overall peak, at #1075, which it achieved back in April during it's own promo, but it didn't reach the top spot in any single category. It's on promotion again in June and hopefully with the imminent release of Exile it'll get another chance.

While I'm keeping quiet about my sales figures for this one, I'm actually not far short of a decent sales milestone across all my books. I'll let you know ...

Okay, back to editing ...

Chris Ward
May 24th 2013

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Man Who Built the World is on discount

In the rush to get the next Tube Riders book done, I tend to forget the others a bit. However, for the next two days The Man Who Built the World will be reduced to 99cents in the US and the equivalent elsewhere.

It's currently featured here on Free Kindle Books and Tips, and the added exposure has helped it bounce up to #6 in the Dark Fantasy Top 100 on Amazon USA. I've been as high as #4 so I'm hoping it'll have a bit more wind and get a couple of places higher. I really like Free Kindle Books and Tips because they're keen to promote bargain books as much as free ones because while of course we write for love it's always nice to get paid once in a while. They'll be featuring Tube Riders with it's shiny new cover on June 10th, so look out for that.

Okay, over and out. Got to finish off revising Tube Riders Exile. I have two chapters to go. Added in almost 10,000 words so far, roughly 30 pages. No idea where it comes from, but it's actually not much shorter than volume two.

Also, had a couple of hours free up at a mountain school yesterday so I got down to brainstorming ideas for TR: Revenge. I actually ended up doing more on my side novel, set in London after the Tube Riders escape. I've decided to rename it Tube Riders: In the Shadow of London, and I'm hoping to get a bit of time on it this year. I've also decided it might be fun to write a novel about the Governor's backstory. It'll be pretty much one for the fanboys (assuming there are any ...) because the central character will basically be the bad guy from the main series and therefore the story won't have mass appeal, but it does mean that the Tube Riders world could expand to FIVE books. And that coming from a guy who hates writing series ...

Anyway, back to it ... go buy Man Who Built the World and Head of Words while you're waiting, because they're both awesome. Just had another five star review come in for HoW, and there's plenty of critical praise out there for MWBTW that I don't have to say anything.

Laters ...

Chris Ward
22nd May 2013

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tube Riders new covers

As Exile gets closer and closer to being released, here's a little something to get excited about. These are the new covers for The Tube Riders. There are again the work of Su Halfwerk at Novel Prevue, who as always did a fantastic job.

We went for a more subtle fear approach this time, with a Huntsman looming over an approaching train. Tube Riders is far more dystopian than straight sci-fi, and this cover gives it more of a sinister feel.

On the paperback you have a picture on the back of a city engulfed in blue fire. The fire not only symbolizes the chaos and anarchy that is overtaking London but can also be related to the electricity that powers the London Underground trains that are such a big part of the novel.

This is the third main cover for Tube Riders, and while I liked the first two I think this is the best of the lot. And wait until you see the cover for Exile .... you'll get your first look at one of the major characters in the series. It's an absolute stunner, believe me.

Chris Ward
15th May 2013

Monday, 13 May 2013

Cover reveals coming soon ...

The new cover for The Tube Riders is almost done. It looks cracking. I'll be revealing it very soon.

You'll have to wait a little longer to see the cover for Exile, but I promise it's worth the wait.

In the meantime, go take a look at my self-publishing blog here for some more info on the revision of Exile. It's going great, I just don't have a lot of time, ever. Got about 150 pages to get through, then I'll be correcting the types of errors mentioned in that post, reading it over one more time and then getting it out to my beta readers.

Over and out for now,

Chris Ward
May 14th 2013

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tube Riders: Exile cover news and general news

Okay, so I've got the cover back for Exile. It's an absolute stormer, and if ever I needed a push to make this book excellent it was this.

However, you're not getting to see it just yet. Once I've got the book's revisions done and its in the final stages of editing/proofing, I'll let you see it then. Soon, soon ...

In fact, the cover is so good that I've decided to have the cover for Part 1 updated to push it up to the same standard. That one I WILL show you, once I'm happy with it.

So just hang in there.

Also, good news for Tube Riders fans is that I'm feeling so inspired by recent events that I've decided to start writing Part 3 straight away. I was planning to start it in September but while revising Exile and with all the cover stuff the Tube Riders world started swirling around in my mind and it's difficult to let you.

Can't promise I'll start today, but soon. In May for sure. I hate writing during the hot summer months but I'll deal with that as I get to it.

In the meantime, while you're waiting for Exile, why not check out my new book, Head of Words? It's a lot different but it shows my versatility as a writer. It also just received this storming five star review. Many thanks to Scott Bury for that one.

That's all for now. Happy reading!

Chris Ward
May 8th 2013

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Tube Riders: Exile update

I'm very much a person who likes to spread their wealth but I decided last week that my writing time and energy was being spread too thinly, shared over a variety of projects and promotions. Therefore, in order to get the second book in the Tube Riders Trilogy out as quickly as possible I've scaled everything back. All other writing projects are currently on hold, while I'm attempting (somewhat unsuccessfully...) to withdraw from the social media world in order to concentrate on getting this book revised and out.

It's going fairly well. I've revised 190/542 pages at the time of writing, and the current wordcount stands at 147,393. I've added a couple of thousand words since I started revising, but that's mostly minor world detail. I've not come up against anything yet that stands out as being out of place.

All being well, I'm hoping to get through my own revisions by the end of May (I'd love to say the middle, but I have a day job and a family to look after so time isn't something I have an abundance of right now ...), after which I'll be sending it to a handful of beta readers whom I have already chosen to basically tell me where it does and doesn't suck. Once I've fixed up any common complaints (hopefully there won't be any ...!) it'll go to the editor and then the proofreader. All being well I'll have it published by the end of July, August at the latest.

The cover has been commissioned, so look out for that too. I'm going to try to get Marta on this one, but that's all I can say right now. Stay tuned.

While I'm here, The Tube Riders is currently still 99c, so if you have any friends you want to convert now's the chance, before the price goes back up. Remember, telling your friends and writing reviews helps me out more than you could possibly imagine. The more I sell of part one (and hopefully then part two), the sooner I'll be able to get part three (and four ...?!) out to you. I thank everyone of you who reads my books from the bottom of my heart.

Happy reading,

Chris Ward
May 2nd 2013

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Dark Days WIP snippet

I've been working on a horror novel and I thought i'd give you a little snippet. I wrote this passage a couple of days ago and quite liked it. Of course it may never make it to the final novel but there's a good chance it'll survive in some form or other.

One of his teeth felt loose from where the guy had slugged him. Millward had started it, glaring at the man until he got up and came over, then hitting him once, twice, three times in the face before the guy could say a word. The man’s brawny neck had soaked up the punches like a boxer’s training pad, then he had hit Millward with what felt like a sledgehammer. Bar staff had broken it up then and Millward had stumbled outside and fled in case the man wanted a second round.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

It felt strange to say it, but he had enjoyed being hit. The guy had probably outsized Millward by thirty kilograms and at least three inches in height. He hadn’t wanted to hit the guy, only to incite the guy to hit him, because pain was the only way to make himself remember that he was still alive, that blood still pushed its reluctant way through his veins.

He pulled the phone from his pocket and glanced at the clock. It was 1.47 a.m. He couldn’t remember what time he had got back to the police station with Welch, but it had been no later than nine.

Sometimes the time just disappeared. 

There were three missed calls from Welch on his phone, and a voicemail, but he ignored it, shutting the phone and putting it back in his pocket. She would just be hassling him again, either about work or wanting to fuck. He didn’t want to know about the first and the last would make him feel too guilty, even though it was tempting at times. Welch was a desperate, hollow soul like himself, but he feared that if he got too close to her they would simply dissolve into each other, disappear.

Yeah, I know either disappeared or disappear will have to change but I like both of those sentences at the moment. We'll see.

I'm up to 77 pages now (29,000 words) and hope to finish it around June or July. Of course, it might never get there but so far it's going well.

For anyone who's wondering, I'm also editing Tube Riders: Exile and its going okay. These are my two big projects at the moment. I have a couple of older novels I want to edit up into shape for possible future publication but I don't want to overload myself too much right now.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Blog News

I've been thinking about this blog for some time, and have now made a few decisions. This blog has kind of served as a multi-purpose blog since I started it a year or so ago, and while I have a handful of regular readers and followers I think that in order for it to become more popular it's necessary to break it up into its component parts.

There are three things I write about - my books, writing craft and business, and my life in Japan. While some people may have an interest in all three, others will only have an interest in one or two, so it seems counterproductive to write on a variety of topics which will interest people only 1/3 of the time.

This blog, A Million Miles from Anywhere, will remain the blog dedicated to my books and books in general. I'll be writing all about my own books, plus posting book reviews or news I find of interest about other authors here. This will also include interviews with other authors.

Everything specifically about my life in Japan will be posted in future on my new blog, Living in Nagano. I just started this blog today and it will be a photo-heavy online diary of my life and what I find of interest in Japan. I'll be attempting to post at least once a week, mostly just pics with short descriptions rather than the 2,000 word plus posts that I often put on here.

All my posts on writing craft and self-publishing will be moving to another new blog, Self-publishing for Beginners. I literally started this blog 45 seconds ago so there's no content there yet, but I have about twenty blog posts specific to the subject now so I'll be cross-posting them all over there in time as well as adding new ones.

People who are interested in what I have to say will therefore be able to pick and choose what they want to read while avoiding the parts that don't interest them. All my blogs will be linked from each other plus the two new blogs will be carrying ads for my books (because they're my books and my blogs haha) as well as links to my cover designers, editors and proofreaders on my self-publishing blog. In addition, assuming I'm allowed to, I'll also be monetizing the two new blogs with Google AdSense. I've avoided this up to now because I hate ads on websites, but if they're not too intrusive I'll let them stay. I don't make a lot of money from writing but I'm not doing this solely for love, either. I've been told by several blogging friends that I'm missing a trick by not monetizing my current blog already.

So there you have it. I'll need a couple of weeks before things are running smoothly but you can look forward to lots and lots of interesting things to read from me in the future. And lots of pictures of my cat, because, as everyone knows, cats rule the world and are allowed to go wherever they damn well like!

Chris Ward
18th April 2013

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Beware the Crutch

Recently I saw a post on a writer’s forum giving a link to an online tool which allowed the self-published writer to quickly add up their sales figures on their Amazon reports. There were lots of positive replies on the usefulness of the aforementioned online tool, because it meant you no longer had to add the numbers up yourself.

Hang on a minute …?

You need an online tool to add up a string of whole numbers? While I’ve come across a lot of evidence to suggest a brain isn’t always a requirement in the world of self-publishing, in general I’ve found that mine is usually sufficient enough for this task, often with the help of the fingers on one hand, or occasionally both on a good month. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who sells in the kind of numbers that might take more than few seconds to easily calculate, then there’s always that trusty tool known as a calculator. Most computers have them, as, often, do desks, drawers and pockets.

The paragraph above might come across as being a little condescending, but be assured it was meant to be tongue in cheek. However, this online tool is a simple example of a writer’s crutch.

Of these, the self-publishing writer should beware.

I see lots of posts on forums by self-published authors wanting programs to help them do things. “How do I keep track of sales/chapters/characters?” Um … Excel? Or failing that a pen and a piece of paper?

I see a lot of writers talking about a program called Scrivener. I don’t know what that is, but apparently it’s a computer program that organizes the hell out of your novel. Personally I’m happy with an old version of Word and a simple Excel spreadsheet, but even that is a crutch. A computer is a crutch to make life easier for writers who used to write on a typewriter, which was in turn a crutch for a writer who used to use a pen, which was a crutch for carving something on a rock, itself a crutch for your mouth, which was a crutch for your heart, which is where stories truly come from … whatever, you get it.

Just to clarify, I’m not trying to belittle Scrivener or those who use it or any other specialist writing program. I know far better writers than me who swear by it and sooner or later, if it’s as awesome as I’ve heard, I’ll probably be using it myself. However, as a noob starting out on a writing career today who has already decided to start self-publishing as soon as heavenly possible (which is probably too soon) then you could do worse than working with a pen and a pad of paper. Many moons ago that’s what I did. You’ll connect with the words a whole lot better and when you start out that is the only thing that is important.

My point is that you should beware over-reliance on something that makes your job easier. When you’re starting out on the quest to write as well as you can, you shouldn’t concern yourself with how to make it look pretty, or how to organize it neatly. Right at the very, very beginning, you shouldn’t even worry about plot. You should concern yourself with the WORDS AND THE WORDS ONLY, because if your words are awesome all the rest will come together in time.

The biggest crutch I see self-publishers leaning on is the editor/proofreader. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use them because I strongly believe that you should – but knowing that an editor is waiting to correct your crappy grammar or your poor spelling is no excuse for not striving to get your book perfect before it is seen by anyone else. The old analogy that you can’t polish a turd is appropriate here – an editor might be able to round a turd into a more uniform shape so that it appears somewhat more like a mud pie … but it’s still a turd, and shame on you for sending it to them – for leaning on your crutch – in the first place. You should never have let it out of your sight in that condition.

I used to do proofreading on the side, but I gave up because people were sending me the kind of junk I would be embarrassed to allow off my computer and expecting me to fix it up into a quality book that people would want to pay money for. I molded a couple of mud pies, but that was the best I could do. Then, surprise, surprise, aforementioned turds later appear on Amazon with five-star reviews from friends and family and the evil beyond all evil, the paid-for review service. So it looks great, and it sounds great. But what has really happened is that turd has been allowed to get all the way to the reader before it’s been flagged as a turd, but by then it’s too late, your turd is in the hands of someone with the power to smash your sales into smithereens, simply by pointing out in a nicely worded one-star review what you should have realised long before you self-published it that what you have on your hands is nothing more than a turd. All those fake reviews are like a paper umbrella – it’ll protect you from the rain for a while, but sooner or later the rain is going to break through and then you’re going to get drenched. But whatever, it’s each writer’s personal choice. There is a school of thought that self-published writers can “grow up in public” as it were, improving their craft with the public as the ultimate judge. Each to their own, but as a shy, fragile kid who’d been pushed around a bit at school I know without a doubt that had I self-published those novels I wrote at 18 and 19 in the form they existed in then, I would have got deservedly hammered by reviewers, and that would not have been good for me. It would not have been good at all.

But, whatever. Each to their own. Personally I don’t enjoy getting punched in the face, either in real life or on the internet, not until I’ve developed a chin to take it.

It says a lot about a writer who leans on crutches too much. First and foremost a writer is an artist. After he (or she) has created something worth selling he then becomes a businessman. Review that phrase “worth selling”. This is the key. It is your responsibility to produce something worth selling. After you have done that it’s perfectly acceptable to get someone else to give it a shine and then put it into a nice packet ready for sale. But don’t cut corners or those corners will reappear sooner or later to bite you in the ass.

Beware the crutch. We all use them, but know that you’re using them and always strive, where possible, to do without them as much as you can. You’ll be a better writer for it.

That is all.

Chris Ward
April 17th 2013

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tube Riders bargain book promo push

My bestselling dystopian novel The Tube Riders will be featured on two big bargain book promo sites today. If you want to do me a massive favour and help give it a lift up the charges, go grab 200 or so copies for all your friends. Anyone who does that can have a signed photograph of me sitting in my new Merc.

Saying that, on a more annoying note some b•••••d keyed my car while I was in a family restaurant yesterday. It might just have been a kid with a coin and douchebag parents, but it put a dampener on my whole day.

So if you want to make me feel better, go and grab a copy of Tube Riders. It's just 99c, which is 27c less than the bottle of Orangina I bought in the 7Eleven near my house this afternoon. I like Orangina.


Another good thing about buying Tube Riders this weekend - if you read at the same speed as me (a book of this length takes about three months) then you'll have finished it just in time for part 2, which should be released in the summer.

Happy reading,

Chris Ward
15th April 2013

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Miffy's Birthday!

Okay, nothing at all about writing on today's blog. This post will be a shameless celebration of my cat, Miffy, who was born four years ago this April.

We're not actually sure of her exact birthday because she was born to a stray cat and abandoned. She was found behind a temple by some monks who offered her to my girlfriend (now wife) who was working there at the time.

We took her home, not expecting her to live because she could barely walk and weighed just 200g, but she did, and now she pretty much controls our lives.

Here's the first video I took of Miffy, two days after we brought her home.

She was already very cute. Within a couple of weeks she was a real handful, as you can see below.

Within a year she was fully grown, as you can see in the next video. I'm sure you'll agree that she's very cute.

Of course, being a responsible cat owner, my favorite past time is taking pictures of my cat. Here's a few of my favorites.

Like most cats, Miffy spends the majority of her time asleep, except when I'm trying to sleep between 3am and 6am. And she had such an influence on our lives that we actually ended up getting married in the same temple behind which she was found, so here's a little wedding photo for you (it'll probably be up for a limited time only, because if the wife knows I've posted it she'll probably make me take it down! ;-) ). I'm the one the skirt and the wife is the one in the dress. That's not the temple btw.

So ...


Now stop wasting time reading about my cat and go buy my books ...! ;-)

Chris Ward
April 13th 2013