Tag Archives: Writer Resources

It’s almost time for a little NanoWriMo action…


Its been a long time since I last posted and I have had a few adventures (crikey, many posts worth of stories to come…). I thought this was an opportune time to update you on my plans for November. You see I am planning to take part in a thing call NanoWriMo. Not heard of it? Well you should think about checking out their website (www.nanowrimo.org).

NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is essentially a competition or a ‘call to arms’ for writers. It challenges you to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It doesn’t have to be anything special (although we all hope our own contribution will be), just a first draft really.

I first heard about NanoWriMo after I’d started writing and I was actually too late to take part in it in 2012 as I didn’t get the writing bug until early 2013. Because I thought it was a cool undertaking I did my own 50,000 words in a month writing challenge and managed to punch out the first (albeit very rough) draft of the first three episodes of the Adarna Chronicles. It felt like an amazing achievement even though it took many more months to get ‘Empire Under Siege’ and ‘Phoenix Rising’ into publishable format and ‘The Great Bear’ isn’t out until the end of the month (over a year after the first draft!).

In November 2013 I had a young baby to look after and so it just happen that November (so no ‘official’ NanoWriMo).

This year i’ve decided to go for it, my project is entitled ‘Bird of Paradise’, it’s a full length novel and the follow up to my novelette ‘Paradise’ (which was actually the first thing I published). Will I make it to 50,000 words? Who knows (I have an hour a night in which to do it!) but it will be an adventure along the way.

If you ever thought about writing or if you are seeking some motivation, why not jump in and register on the NanoWriMo website? You never know, you just might discover that best seller that you always knew you had in you…

Good luck!


‘The Bloody King’ is FREE! (Everywhere except Amazon!)

The Bloody King final3last one for Marinbookworks

Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know the my short story ‘The Bloody King’, a dark thriller set in London, is now free to download until the end of the month.

Rather amusingly, the only place it isn’t free to download is Amazon (sorry about that but I don’t want to make it perma-free as yet).

Please do help yourselves to a copy as a reward for tuning in to my ramblings for the last year or so. But please do be aware that it is very different to my other works.

I am doing this as an experiment to see whether it helps with attracting readers to my work. This is a slightly strange experiment because ‘The Bloody King’ is a thriller and my other work is fantasy or science fiction, but hey ho, it is all I have to give away at the moment 🙂

If you would like to help me with this experiment please do tweet about the free offer. I will then report back at a later date with the results!

Not sure how this will go as the market is absolutely saturated with free books at the moment, but you never know!

Here are the links to all the sites you can download from:-

‘The Bloody King’ on NOOK

‘The Bloody King’ on KOBO

‘The Bloody King’ on iTunes

All the best


The thing about book covers

PARADISE  Jason K. Lewis

So, I have learned a lot in the last year. When I look back and think how little I knew about self publishing when I started down the road in March 2013, it is astonishing how much has changed. I have to admit that I am still a relative newbie though and as such can make mistakes (No! I hear you cry, surely not?).

I published my first novelette ‘Paradise’ just over two weeks ago now, having spent what felt like an age getting everything right (I think). I edited, re-edited and then sent it off to a professional editor and then edited it again myself before deciding it was ready for release. I then did something very, very dumb. I decided that a book cover concept that I had been working on, which was really rather quirky (check it out for yourself here) was suitable for use when the book was released.

I pressed the publish button and congratulated myself on a job well done. I got really lucky on the first day when a reviewer purchased it and gave it a great review (check it out here). I was stupidly happy. Someone else bought the book the same day. Then…. nothing. I decided to take action and forwarded the book to a couple of reviewers. One agreed to review it and posted another great review (check it out here), again I was delighted and then…. nothing.

I know that it’s hard work to sell books as a self published author, so I took a few days off my ‘Paradise’ project and returned to the other, much larger work, I am writing called ‘Hope’ (working title).

I revisited the Amazon web page for ‘Paradise’ at the weekend and realised something for the first time. The cover I designed looks amateur in the extreme (in fact it could be described as more than a little bit naff). Could this be what is putting people off buying the book? I thought. Whilst it is only one factor amongst many (discoverability being another very important one), I decided as a point of pride (deeply embarrassed that I had been unable to make an objective assessment of the cover) that I would have to do something about it.

There followed a mad search of the internet as I looked for a design solution. There are many companies offering off the shelf book covers that you just add your own title to, but I wanted something unique and special.

I had seen the new book by author Lindsay Buroker, ‘Balanced on a blade’s edge‘ and absolutely loved the cover. I searched using the ‘look inside’ feature and couldn’t find details of the cover designer. On a whim, I Googled it and stumbled upon a discussion board that mentioned a company known as Deranged doctor design (DDD). In retrospect this was like striking oil on the first drill. I had no idea if they could be trusted, but I did love the cover for Lindsay Buroker’s book so I thought I would take a risk.

DDD have a system where, if they accept a commission (and they don’t accept them all), they send design concepts without charging you up front. They only charge you when you have approved a design. In my case it took them a couple of days to give me a concept that I was absolutely delighted with (see the cover above, what do you think?). I would highly recommend them for their professionalism and patience (not to mention their artistic skills). I have to state here that I have no financial interest in their company, I’ve never even met them.

I have now uploaded the new cover to Amazon, but sadly (and I hadn’t realised this) it takes them a few days to change the book cover in the Amazon store.

So for the next few days my old, crappy, cover will remain. I cannot wait, however, to see the new cover go up, for (I think) my pride will be restored.

What I hadn’t realised initially is that people really do judge a book by its cover. Whether it makes a difference to sales or not is another matter, but really, honestly, I don’t care. I have something I think I can be proud of (you may have noticed I have festooned my blog with banners and images of the new cover!)

The moral of this story? Get a good cover! (and don’t, ever, ever, think you’re a designer, because the odds are you aren’t!).

If you liked this post 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….

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.


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).

If you like this post, why not click the little ‘Follow’ button near the top right of the site?

Adios for now

My personal NaNoWriMo just couldn’t wait

So before I started trying to write something, I read about this thing called NaNoWriMo (yes that’s how it’s written!). This is a competition that encourages prospective writers to go for it and see if they can write 50,000 words in a month. Of course, as fate would have it, they only do it every November, and I couldn’t wait to get started. So one day in the middle of March I started to do my own, personal, NaNoWriMo. Easy peasy, I thought on the first day, no problemmo. 

Rather unfortunately I hadn’t taken two factors into account:-

1) I work about 60 hours a week. This means that after I get home, have dinner with my rather lovely pregnant wife (six months today!- hello Wifey! (she reads the blog – I have to be nice to her otherwise she might make me stop blogging…… Please don’t tell her I said that!….)), after dinner and other sundry exciting tasks (empty the bin, stack the dish washer, do the washing- oh joy). I get about an hour, maybe ninety minutes if I’m lucky, to actually write something.

2) I read everywhere I looked that I needed to have a presence on the internet -utilising social media- if I wanted to have any hope of getting my work noticed, and this held true whether I self published or (hope of all hopes!) got a traditional publishing deal. Little did I know that by doing this I would further reduce the amount of time that I had to actually write. So far I’ve written two blogs on my experiences of social media (my extensive experience of social media and my first four days in the bloggoverse), essentially I am now completely addicted to twitter et al. Gonna write more on that in the future, believe me there’s plenty to say (stay tuned for another exciting installment……..).

The two factors above had a serious impact on my ability to get the job done. 50,000 words for an untried and untested newbie is, believe me, an enormous task (conscious here that many of you have probably done this already and are chortling away at my naivete). It went all the way to the wire, sweat dripped from my forehead, splattering on the keyboard as I completed the task with less than an hour to spare (OK slight exaggeration but it was quite hot in the lounge that night).

I’d spent years telling myself that I had a book in me (not literally, obviously– I would imagine they’re quite difficult to swallow and I don’t want to think about the other possible point of entry….). Every time I thought about writing something I reasoned my way out of starting. You don’t have the time, you’re not good enough, who would read the drivel that comes out of your brain etc etc. Yet now, as I write this blog, I’m past the half way point on my first novel.

The reality is I found the time, despite the fact I thought I had none. I scrounged it up at the end of the night, on the train (there’s a story to tell there, believe me). You name it, I was writing in every spare moment. The difference between this month and all the others of my life? I didn’t watch as much TV- that was all. Everything else continued as normal, I still went out, I still saw my friends, hell- even my wife is still speaking to me (oh thank-you god….).

The moral of this (rather serious for once, sorry about that- will return to the funny- promise) story from a newbie writer? If I can do it anyone can. Simple as that. Also- try out a target- 50,000 words in a month, whatever, it doesn’t matter, it will keep you focused on the task at hand.

If you like this blog then don’t forget to check out the others, or even follow (there’s a button on the top right- it says ‘follow’ on it, which is quite helpful really)…….. you never know you might not regret it.

PS- note to self from subconscious (because it knows you will read and re-read this blog at least 10 times, you are. after all, the top visitor to the site)- Stop all this flippin blogging and get on with the novel you great TWERP. You may have finished the first 50,000 words of the first draft but you still have to finish the novel and then the real work will start, (you have to edit and re-write and edit again and again). Don’t you dare rest on your laurels now (and while we’re at it- who the heck do you think you are telling other people how to do it when you just started yourself? That’s just flipping arrogant, that is……).