Tag Archives: story

My book ‘Paradise’ is free on Amazon right now!

PARADISE Jason K. Lewis

PARADISE Jason K. Lewis

To celebrate the upcoming release of the third book in the ‘Adarna chronicles’ I am currently offering ‘Paradise’, my science fiction novelette for FREE! Please do feel free (pardon the pun) to pop over to Amazon and pick up your copy as the offer ends on the 31st October…

The Great Bear Book three in the ‘Adarna Chronicles’, ‘The Great Bear’ has been a real trial for me (surprise, surprise, each book is harder than the last!). It differs from ‘Empire Under SIege’ and ‘Phoenix Rising’ in many respects, the biggest difference is its length (it’s as long as the other two put together). I am pleased to announce though, that it will be out on the 1st of November at the latest 🙂

 

Thanks to everyone for all of your help, support and advice over the last three months, I couldn’t have done it without you. I hope that you enjoy ‘The Great Bear’ when it is released. In the meantime, why not grab a copy of ‘Paradise’ while you wait?

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Help me with my book cover ‘blurb’ for ‘Empire under siege’

Adarna 1 - Empire under siege

I have been putting this off for a while, and now that the time has come I am bizarrely terrified of writing the book cover ‘blurb’ for my new novella ‘Empire under siege’. I have a cover that I am very happy with (see picture), but for some reason I have been delaying addressing the rather major issue of the blurb.

So, basically, this post is a cry for help. ‘Empire under siege’ is a fantasy set in the ‘Adarnan empire’. The empire itself has many similarities to the Roman empire. There are legions and an emperor and even a senate of sorts. But for every similarity there is a notable difference.

The book itself is an action/ political intrigue/ war story and it is the first in a series that will follow the world-changing events that kick off in this book with a barbarian nation invading the empire. The book itself has been written to appeal to fans of authors like David Gemmell, George R.R. Martin and Stephen Donaldson (if you haven’t read any of these authors, you really should check them out) and whilst I can’t pretend to have a tenth of the skill of any of them I should also make it clear that I have deliberately avoided referencing their style or stories. ‘Empire under siege’ and the ‘Adarna chronicles’ that it forms part of are not cheap imitations of other works (oh dear, that does sound a little pompous!), but are stand alone tales set in a completely new and different world.

Anyway, I am rambling as usual. Back to the point. Please see my attempt at some back cover ‘blurb’ below. Be mean, be harsh, criticise the heck out of it. Please do all of these things, because I want it to end up being as good as possible. Thanks in advance for your help, I really appreciate it 🙂

Back cover ‘blurb’ for ‘Empire under siege’

The Empire of Adarna has stood for a thousand years. A beacon of civilisation shining out to the world. Its glory is undimmed, but of late there are rumours…

A horde of savage warriors has invaded and overrun the south, destroying a legion with ease. Now, the very heartlands of the empire are under threat.

The emperor is young, new to his power and enamoured of it.

Republic… There are whispers in the bars and taverns of the capital and the name that is whispered is always the same… Martius.

General Felix Martius has been charged with ending the threat from the horde, but the emperor’s orders have come late and there has been little time to gather an army. The legions are outnumbered ten to one.

Conlan Danson, a young officer in the Third legion, will stand on the front line, unaware that his actions may influence the fate of humanity.

Empire under siege is the first book in the Adarna chronicles, set in a world of epic grandeur and political intrigue it follows the fate of the Empire through the eyes of the men who could ultimately save it, or doom it to destruction.

What do you think? (personally I think it is a bit cringe worthy!). The lesson I learned today? It’s really difficult to write some ‘blurb’….

 

 

 

Why I no longer use Evernote for my writing (How to find your lost Evernote notes in Android)

Frustrated and confused

I had an issue the other day that frightened the hell out of me. I spend a lot of time on the train these days and when I am not on official ‘work’ business (i.e. earning a crust), I like to write on the train journeys.

*NOTE* If you have found this post through a search engine and you want to know how to get your lost ‘Evernote’ note back, please feel free to skip my ramblings and go to the end of the post, where hopefully the solution awaits you 🙂

In a previous post I have outlined my writing tools and I thought it was important to provide an update. You see the other day on the train I decided I wanted a break from writing and editing the ‘Adarna chronicles’. To be fair I was getting a little tired of the first novella ‘Empire under siege’ (for those who have read previous posts, the project used to be called ‘Hope’, but I realised that the name meant nothing to anyone…. Now I know some of you will think ‘What the hell, if Hugh Howey can sell a book called ‘Wool’ then why not have an abstract name that has little meaning until you have read the book?’ But I just wasn’t convinced, so the name has changed).

Anyway, back to the point. I was a little tired of ‘Empire under siege’ and when this happens I tend to work on a short story (which is how my first published work ‘Paradise’ came in to existence) to get over the writer’s block. I have a long list of short story synopses that I hold as ‘Evernote’ ‘notes’, and I will continue to use Evernote for this purpose. The mistake I made was to use ‘Evernote’ as a cut down word processor.

You see I started writing a short story called ‘The hunger’ on the train in Evernote as it seemed easier than trying to use a word processor on my Android tablet. I’ve done this before with great success.

On the day I hit a seam of inspiration that enabled me to polish off the first draft of the story (5,000 words or so) on the journey to London and back. I was ecstatic. Rarely have I been able to finish something in a day, and although there are many rewrites ahead for the story before it goes to the editor, I have to say that I was very, very pleased with it (which, to be fair, probably means it is the worst thing I have ever written!).

I finished the story just as the train got in to my home station and I didn’t have time to sync ‘Evernote’ to the cloud, so I closed my Android tablet and went home, secure in the knowledge that the work would be preserved (I had pressed ‘save’ quite a few times) until I got home and could sync to the cloud and transfer the story to ‘Scrivener’ (which is my writing platform of choice).

Sadly, when I got home and opened Evernote on my iMac, only the first half of the story was there. I didn’t panic, going instead to the Android tablet and checking the ‘note’ on it (surely, I thought, it must still be on the tablet?). Sadly, only half of the story was on the tablet too.

Any writer, I think, will sympathise with my plight. I had been hit by a moment of inspiration and hurled words onto the page in a frenzy. There was no way that I could recapture the lost words. I knew the story, sure, but it would never be the same (plus it would be a pain in the arse to write it all down again). I was utterly, completely, dejected.

I scoured the internet for a solution (after moping around for an hour or so), but couldn’t find anything. To make matters worse, the Evernote website help section was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

After much head scratching (and cursing), I reasoned that because I had pressed ‘save’ in Evernote the file must be on my Android somewhere. It turns out, thankfully, that I was right.

Here’s what I did:-

1) I opened up my Android tablet and went to the file manager app.

2) In the file manager app (there are many available, all you need is something that will let you browse the files on your Android) I located the ‘Android’ folder (if you have an SD card or similar inserted you will have to search this too).

3) Within the ‘Android’ folder I opened ‘data’ and scrolled down until I found a folder called ‘com.evernote’ and within this a folder called ‘files’

4) Within files I opened a folder called ‘unsaved notes’ (be aware that the structure of the file system in Evernote is such that you may have folders with these names on any storage device connected to your Android and they may have different content. So make sure you look through them all). It did strike me as a little bizarre that my saved files would be in a folder called ‘unsaved notes’ but I found them, so who really cares?

5) I found some ‘.enml’ files that had a date and time stamp that coincided with my train journey.

6) I emailed one of the .enml files (the latest) to my iMac.

7) I tried to open the .enml file. It opened but was mostly nonsense.

8) I did a search on the internet and found out that if you rename a .enml file to .html then it can be opened. So I did this and then opened the .html file in my browser.

9) Hey presto! My entire story popped up in my browser. I copied and pasted it into ‘Scrivener’ and the job was done! I slept soundly that night.

So that, dear reader, is why I will never write anything (other than notes) in Evernote again. I have to state that  there is a function on their website that allows you to ask for support. I did send them a request for help but by the time they got back to me I had solved the problem myself.  I should also note (pardon the pun…) that Evernote is an extremely handy and powerful tool if used correctly and I will continue to use it in the future for many other things.

So, that’s the end of a rather different blog post for me. I hope that someone out there finds it useful at some stage. At the very least, I hope that it will help others avoid the mistakes that I made.

If you like this post why not ‘like’ it below? If you want to you can follow my blog on the link at the top right too.

Extract from ‘Empire under siege’

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442Hi All,

Please see below an extract from volume one of my ‘Adarna’ fantasy series ‘Empire under siege’, which should be out before the end of the month (well, volume 1, that is). ‘Hope’ is pretty much meant to be a ‘sword and sandal’ epic fantasy. Would really welcome your thoughts (trembles in fear of negative feedback…). Is it engaging enough? (not to mention well enough written?). Please bear in mind that this is still in draft format, it has not, as yet, been professionally edited….

Extract from ‘Empire under siege’ (The Adarna series, volume 1):-

“There is no hope!” the shout carried on the wind, ragged, high pitched and broken.

Conlan glanced toward the noise, his concentration interrupted. He saw the world in perfect focus – a world filled with madness, blood and death. There is no hope. Conlan’s stomach churned as thoughts of death and defeat overtook him. A shadow, a jarring crunch, and his vision blurred, vertigo and darkness overwhelming him, enfolding him in a velvet embrace.

Hearing returned first, clashing iron, the cracking thump of clubs on shields, the rhythmic chant of the legion; fight, fight for the Empire! Screams, jagged and terrible… grunting and groaning intermingled with the choking gasps of the dying.

Conlan envisaged the scene as he lay in darkness – men, shields locked on the front line to hold back the horde, short swords stabbing and hacking rhythmically, perfectly drilled, the finest soldiers in the world. It seemed a distant and terrifying dream.

“Conlan!” someone shouted.

He opened his eyes, squinting into the bright afternoon sun until a silhouetted figure blocked the light.

“Conlan, you have to get up.”

Conlan struggled to stand as hands grasped his arms, dragging him up in grips of iron. His legs wobbled unsteadily as the world snapped into focus.

“Conlan, look at me.” It was Jonas, his shield brother, blue eyes earnest and bright. “Can you speak?”

“What happened?” His voice did not sound like his own, the words caught painfully in his throat, tongue rasping in a parchment dry mouth.

“You dropped your guard, one of the bastards caught you hard, thought you were dead.”

“But…?” dizziness threatened to overwhelm Conlan, crashing in waves against his consciousness.

Jonas grunted. “He overbalanced. Lucus gutted him, then fat Tev took his throat out.”

Conlan looked towards the front. The battle line was five deep, spread too thin to contain the horde – already starting to bulge inward. The fate of the Empire stood on a knife edge.

 

And there you have it, short and sweet. It isn’t all action, but there is a lot going on. If you liked this post (or if you want to know when ‘Empire under siege’ is released), why not follow my blog? Or like me on Facebook? Or maybe even follow on Twitter or Goodreads? (Blimey, that’s a lot of social media choices!) There’s a link to all of them on the right….

Alternatively you could sign up for the ‘Adarna series’ specific newsletter here.

My writing tools….

So I’ve been writing for over a year now in a relatively serious fashion (on the train, for half an hour before I go to bed each night- minutes snatched here and there… you get the picture). During my time I’ve found that a particular set of tools helps me do what I do, so here they are (it’s simple really):-

1) Scrivener- this writing suite from the rather brilliant guys over at Literature and Latte is the key tool that has helped me to follow my dream and actually start to write. The thing about people who want to write (novels in particular) is that they have to be very, very, organised. Often a novel has dozens of chapters, hundreds of scenes and more characters then you can swing a cat at. It’s ridiculously difficult to keep track of all these things. Scrivener uses a simple and intuitive interface to allow you to keep track of everything (I would advise you take the time to watch the excellent tutorials). The software virtually becomes an extension of your mind once you figure out how to use it (and I am stumbling across new features all the time)..

Scrivener is a must if you are serious about writing (in my mind)- I am going to write a separate post on it at some stage as it would take a day to describe its brilliance. Just trust me and try it (there is a thirty day free trial). There is a link on the sidebar (note; I gain nothing if you buy Scrivener- I am not an affiliate).

2) Evernote- there are two reasons for this, the first is that Evernote is a great tool for taking notes, photos or just about anything else and storing them in the cloud. Perhaps more importantly, unless you are a very heavy user, it’s free (there is a premium version for those who are love to eat the megabytes)- it also allows you to sync your account in the cloud across all of your devices- so you write something on your phone and you can pick it up on your tablet or laptop.

The other reason I love Evernote, is that it allows me to continue writing chapters on my Android devices (see below) when I do not have Scrivener available- and then when I get home I can just cut and paste and voila! Everything is back in Scrivener. Hopefully Scrivener will be available soon for Apple and Android mobile devices- but until then Evernote bridges the gap. To be honest I will continue to use Evernote in any case for gathering information and as an aid memoir.

3) Scapple- difficult to describe but essentially a kind of mind-mapping tool by the good folks (again) over at Literature & Latte. I use it to write plot lines or timelines or a ‘character cloud’ detailing essential characteristics. The great thing is you can then import straight into Scrivener (you get the picture).

4) Samsung Galaxy S3 (other phones are available!), I use this with Evernote to jot down story ideas or take photos.

5) ASUS eeepad transformer- this is essentially an Android notebook and ten inch tablet in one. When the keyboard is docked it has a rather fantastic sixteen hour battery life. It can also be taken just about anywhere (I am writing this post on a train from London, and I have found the transformer fits perfectly on any seat back tray- the advantage being that I don’t need a plug or a full table seat that would normally be needed for writing on a train. It also has a full ‘chiclet’ style keyboard, which is great for hammering out the words.

6) Google Drive- this is essentially a cloud based storage system that is great for storing your documents on. Don’t forget, they aren’t safe until they’re in the cloud, and you wouldn’t want to lose your precious writing, would you? I back up to Google drive at every opportunity.

7) My laptop- this is the central hub of my writing hobby, I use it to run Scrivener and also to do all of my editing directly in Scrivener and for uploading files to the cloud etc. It is Windows 7 in my case- but I understand the old Apple devices are pretty good too!

8) My Kindle- what I’ve learned over the last few months is that it’s really difficult to read something on a computer screen, particularly when editing, it’s very easy to miss words and grammatical errors. I’m really not sure why, but this does seem to be a widely accepted phenomenon. Many writers print out physical copies and read and edit from a page- but the truth is I tried this and it was just too messy for me (although I am sure it would suit some). The Kindle makes it easy to read the text (I create a PDF or .mobi file of the chapter I have written using Scrivener and e-mail it to my Kindle), the digital paper better recreates the book reading experience and I can annotate as I go along. Then all I have to do is read through the annotations and make amendments as necessary in Scrivener on my laptop. It sounds like a convoluted approach, but it works for me and it saves on paper, so may even be better for the environment.

UPDATE: I finally caved in and bought a Mac. The thing is though, I have always thought they were a bit overpriced, so I managed to track down a second hand iMac 17inch on eBay (it was made in 2006 and it runs like a dream). I now use the iMac along with all my other tools. The main reason I got a Mac? To access Scrivener 2.0 (of course), and I have to say that I have not been disappointed…

UPDATE No.2: The writing tools seem to have worked! I have just released my first novelette (a very short novel or very long short story– go figure). It’s called Paradise and is available on Amazon (those are links by the way, press them if you want to see the book!). OK, so I have to admit this might look a little desperate, but what can I say, I’m excited! 😉

So that’s the lot. The tools listed above have become my writing life. I am sure you have your own and some of them may be better than mine. If you have suggestions why not post them below for all to see?

Why not follow my blog? There’s a button on the top right if you feel like it….

My first 3 weeks in the twitterverse

First 4 days in the bloggoverse

OK, so I’ve been doing this social media thing for a few weeks now and you know what? It still confuses the hell out of me. Here’s how my experience of twitter has gone so far:-

1) Join twitter and realise that you have absolutely nothing to say to the twitterati or tweeters of tweeps or whatever they’re called, but get a warm gooey feeling inside because you’ve finally taken the leap into social media. Ponder for hours what you should say- eaten up inside by your lack of mental agility. Who the heck would be interested in what you have to say anyway?…..

2) Write your first tweet- it’s not very interesting. It simply says “For a confirmed social network phobe I think I’m doing OK” because that’s bound to be how other people are feeling, right?. Sit and wait whilst trying to do other things (primarily writing your first novel).

3) Jump for joy when you get a notification that someone has followed you- then ponder why on earth they would……

4) Notice that every time you get a new follower you get an e-mail on your smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S3- hmmm…. lovely) Editors note– The author is not connected to or sponsored by Samsung electronics.

5) Start to check the phone every few seconds- looking for the tell tale blue notification light that tells you an e-mail has arrived- it could be another follower, oh wowser, it could be another follower!

6) Become so obsessed with the flashing blue light that you develop an almost Pavlovian response to it (no, you will be relieved to hear, I don’t drool….). It starts to go off every hour or so, which is really rather distracting…..

7) Cautiously look through twitter for people who share similar ideas and interests to you. Then realise that that’s gonna take an age……Get a little less particular. If they seem like nice people then they should be fine, right?

8) Get followed by lots of people who keep tweeting you the same message- ‘Follow me!’ or ‘Buy my book, buy my book!’

9) Read an article and realise that most of the people that are following you and keep tweeting the same message are not people at all- they’re ‘bots’. Oh my god….twitter has been taken over by robots. Quickly stop following these invasive machines- No I don’t want to follow you Mr. Roboto, I’ve watched the Matrix, you know…… I’ve seen where this all leads…..

10) Realise the guy that played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek is huge on twitter. How cool is that? Always wondered what happened to that bloke……

11) Remember you had a bit of a crush on Dr Crusher (that’s Wesley Crusher’s mum) from the Next Generation when you were much younger…..please don’t tell the wife!

12) Realise you had a crush on a Crusher (!)…..Ah Beverley, sweet Beverley

12.5) Realise you say realise alot in your blog. Gotta stop doing that! People will think you can’t write…….Which is probably true…..better check the thesaurus…..

13) Start to do this thing called ‘re-tweeting’. Become cognizant of just how rewarding this can be when people start to send you messages of thanks. OK, think I’m getting the hand of this- there are some really nice folks on twitter.

13) Shudder when you think how much time as an author these days must be directed towards building your ‘platform’ . Should be good at that – always been great at carpentry…. Some of these guys must spend an age every day just surfing and blogging and tweeting. Then discern that for many of them it is a full time job. Still a nitwit…..

14) Send messages back to people by addressing them @something- get quite worried that this might constitute an invasion of their privacy.

15) Become conscious of the fact that it is not an invasion of privacy to send a tweet to someones @thingy- infact it can be the right thing to do. That’s what you think, sucka.

16) Get annoyed with people who follow you and then unfollow you as soon as you follow them back. What’s that all about, huh?

17) Wonder why some people seem to spend all their time promoting their books rather than helping people or just mooching around twitter. Then grasp that these people use their computers to send out automated tweets. Is there anyone on twitter that’s actually human?

18) Figure out what a # does. Sent some tweets with the #amwriting thingy, then feel really guilty in case you’re trespassing in some kind of private club. Cigar and a brandy, anyone?

18) Happily realise that there are actually loads of real humans just like you in the twitterverse. Well maybe not just like you- they probably have brains and I bet they can write…..

Advice from a social media phobe who’s new to all this? Enjoy twitter for what it is. Do everything you can to help people along by re-tweeting and all the other stuff I don’t really understand (favourite, anyone?). Don’t bombard people with advertising or hype or marketing for your book. Take it easy- make a few friends and try to keep the marketing down to 20% of your activity. Oh so now you’re an expert, eh? If you see something good, share it- but don’t expect anything in return and don’t get upset if you don’t get any help in return. Look up altruism in the dictionary- it’s not a given that it’s a two way street…..

Long live the twitterverse (if that’s even what it’s called….).

If you like this blog why not click the ‘like’ button below? Even better (if you have absolutely no common sense) why not sign up for the blog at the top right or even follow? You could even check out my other posts (please, oh please, do that) I thought you said there shouldn’t be any marketing?………

Finding the time to write and train journeys

Lovely writing view

I reckon I don’t get much time to write, what with work and the wife and the gardening etc it’s very, very difficult to get anything done. This is particularly true as I now spend half my life and nearly every free moment looking at tweets and blogs and trying to figure out what this whole ‘social media revolution’ thing is all about.

Let’s be clear here. I’ve been afraid of social media since I first learned of it’s existence. I have friends who routinely facebook and tweet and pintrest (or whatever it’s called) all the time. I’ve remained steadfastly against such practice as, essentially, I’m shy (ahhhh, you all say).

Well all of that changed about a week ago when I realised that it wasn’t that bad after all. I’ve learned much from twittering and blogging etc and whilst I haven’t gotten around to the whole facebooky thing yet, it doesn’t hold quite the terror that it used to.

So anyway- time is a big issue and one of the ways I’ve found to get around the problem is to better utilise (arrgh, the American spell checker tells me I’ve made a spelling mistake yet again, please forgive me if reading this in America- I know there’s at least one of you from checking the stats page on wordpress!- but I plan to use English spelling as I am in the UK) the time that is available to me.

Along with what seems to be the whole world at the moment, I am currently writing a book. It might surprise you to learn that 20% of the writing so far has taken place on the train. So here’s how the story goes:-

– Get up in the morning for early train to London or wherever. Pack ASUS eeePad (it’s a bit like an iPad but has a proper ‘chicklet’ keyboard- really rather brill- google it) and get off to the station. Get on train like zombie that you are in the morning (arrgh, it’s cold, arrgh it’s raining, arrgh I hate getting up early, arrgh where did all these people come from?). 

– Sit on train with eeePad perched on naff plastic tray that you’ve pulled down from the seatback infront of you. If lucky get window seat. If unlucky get aisle seat and prepare to have elbow banged into by every bugger that needs to get on or off, or go get a sandwic,h or go to the toilet etc etc.

– If really lucky spend entire journey on your own. Two seats just for me, hurrah! If unlucky (which is far more likely, this being the UK after all – there are a heck of a lot of people packed into a very small space here), spend the entire journey sat next to either:-

a) a very large matronly lady who actually needs three seats for her ample buttocks and spends the entire journey eating boiled sweets and breathing so heavily you think she may expire at any moment.

Or

b) a man the size of a haystack with a cold so bad you suspect he should be using a towel rather than a handkerchief- oh my god he’s making squelching sounds with is nose, blurrgh.

– Keep elbows in and lean forward intently whilst you write scenes from your little novel. Make sure you keep the screen angled toward you though (which is bloody difficult when you’re in the aisle seat….) as you don’t want matron or fat sickly man to know how bad your writing is (you imagine them standing and addressing the whole carriage- ‘oh my god, this is so funny, this guy thinks he can write. Yeah this one- right here, haha,’ everyone in the carriage roars with laughter and points at you, ‘he thinks he’s an author, all of you, look, he thinks he’s gonna be a proper writer!’

– Not put off by the laughter and pointing, continue writing for the whole journey. Get back ache and hand cramps (oh the pain…) but continue because you have to, you just have to get the damned book finished…

– Get to destination. Go to meeting. Spend whole meeting thinking about plot ideas and character profiles and story arcs. Pretend you’re paying attention when the Chair of the meeting looks at you (amazing how much you can get away with by nodding and giving the occasional ‘yes’ or ‘I agree’).

– Finish meeting, get back on train and write some more. Write like your life depended on it.

– Check word count at end of day (because for some ridiculous reason this is important to you- as if quantity makes up for quality…..) and discover you have written over 3,000 words in four hours.

The trick here? Having absolutely nothing else in the world to do. No internet. No twitter. No Blog. It’s a bit like the computer program ‘write or die’ in that you’re forced to concentrate on the task at hand- what else is there to do on a train in any case?

Newbie’s tip for the day; I use two programs for my writing at the moment:-

1) Evernote, which is great for making quick notes for plot, storyline or character (yes, occasionally in the middle of meeting- they’re never gonna figure it out, hehe) and syncing across all devices. I also use Evernote for my train (and other places!) writing as I can be sure the work is stored safely in the cloud and will be available on my desktop when I get home.

2) Scrivener, which is a program that allows you to break your novel into scenes, store character profiles and plot information- the list is endless. I bought it after a 30 day trial recently and I would recommend to anyone who is serious about writing, it makes the job so much easier (gonna write a review of Scrivener at some stage in the future).

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Adios for now