Sunday 27 May 2018

All of it is never enough.

This is only my second blog post of May and the month is almost out! And the first was just a call for bloggers.

The truth is that I have been letting the blog slide of late. Part of that is the fact that I have 4 books scheduled to come out next year, and three more on top of those that I am contracted to write for the years after.

2019 will see Holy Sister bring the Book of the Ancestor trilogy to a conclusion, and the release of all three books of my science-fiction / D&D / 80s trilogy (working title Impossible Times), starting with One Word Kill, then (working title) Limited Wish, & (working title) Dispel Illusion.

Since my working life balances on the knife edge of my youngest daughter's health, I like to get out ahead of my commitments, and so I have been working harder than usual. In consequence the Impossible Times trilogy is now complete.

Anyway, I felt my neglected blog needed some love, and so I'm here to pontificate, baby!

 All of it is never enough.

This statement is one of the rather nihilistic Jorgisms I came up with a while back. And it serves as a useful title for a rather more upbeat reflection on the author journey and life as a whole.

In general life many of us look at where we are and how we are doing, then we measure ourselves against the "competition". It's not a laudable or "good" outlook, but it is a deeply ingrained part of human nature. Phrases like 'keeping up with the Joneses' and 'the rat race' exist for a reason. At work and at home many of us are looking to move "up" be it a promotion, a wage rise, a bigger house, whatever.

Those of us blessed with the ability to truly enjoy what we have are very lucky. Those with a restless ambition generally have a rocky road ahead and disappointment in store.

Another fact of life, and the one that delivers the titular Jorgism, is that if we set our sights on some lofty and unattainable ground, should we achieve it we will soon find that it has failed to deliver on its promise and some distant peak now beckons.

The writing world is dangerous territory for those of us cursed with this affliction. In a typical job you might have sight of a small body of your peers. Dave from Accounting should never have been made Grade 6 before you. But it is a small pond and the metrics of success are generally hidden from view.

In the writing world you have a vast legion of peers and a dozen channels along which measures of their success are blasted at you. Channels that you are well advised to be using just to maintain a profile that helps to sell your own work. So turning them off isn't really an option.

And the fact is that there is always another hilltop beckoning. If your book gets a hundred ratings in its first month of release and that was your goal ... you suddenly want a thousand. If you get a thousand ... you want ten thousand. If you set your sights on having a TV series made ... well guess what? Once it's made you are still going to want something new.

This circles round to that old saw of journey vs destination. In books I am all about the journey. Readers often are (or think they are) all about the destination. But in life happiness tends to lie not in the goal but in moving toward the goal. There's no level of writing success that will deliver long term happiness, but continuous progress is pretty good at it.

Very few writing careers are ones that enjoy continuous progress in terms of sales or reception. All of us reach peak-book. All of us must ultimately diminish and go into the West. So the answer it seems lies in simply picking your own journey such that the gradient is ever upwards. That can mean changing your metrics, your genre, medium, or even what you're doing entirely. Find something you consider good and move toward it. If you discover yourself heading downhill or stalling of course you don't abandon all hope immediately but after a while you can ask whether this is really the hill you want to die on. The chances are that it isn't and that there are many other hills to climb instead.

It wasn't so very long ago that my goal in life was to win a multiplayer game of Modern Warfare 2 with 30 kills and zero deaths. Then it was to break into the top hundred players in Command and Conquer 3. 

None of this is to say that I am in any danger of giving up writing in favour of my deeply neglected PS4. It's just pontification and something of an explanation for why the book I've just finished is not Book 12 in the chronicles of Jorg Ancrath ... which is what it would be if I had decided to keep heading up that particular mountain!

Friday 25 May 2018

Call for review site (singular) for SPFBO 4.

The first three Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Offs were a great success in terms of getting more eyes on some of the best that self-published fantasy has to offer.

Check out the finalists boards for SPFBO1, SPFBO2 & SPFBO3

So far the SPFBO has considered almost 1,000 books.

Big 5 publishers have noticed our efforts and deals have definitely resulted as a consequence of the publicity generated by doing well in the contest. This, however, is not the end goal of the SPFBO, that is simply to raise the profile of great self-published fantasy books that might otherwise have struggled to find a readership.

The SPFBO involves a lot of work for the bloggers who take part.

In phase 1 which takes 5 months they agree to:

1. Put on their agent's hat and go through the slush pile of novels allocated to them (between 25 and 30 books) to find the one title they will put through to the final.

This does not mean they have to read all the books. My own agent would go through that number in a day. But hopefully they will read part of all of them and all of some.

2. Review that chosen title.

3. Select their 3 favourite covers for the cover art contest in which they will later vote.

It is hoped that they will also review some of their favorite books from the selection they were given.

In phase 2 which takes 5 months they agree to:

1. Read and score all 9 finalists from the other blogs.

2. Review their favorite.

3. Review the winner.

If their own finalist turns out to remain their favourite and to win, then they have no reviews to write in phase 2!

It is hoped they will feel moved to review some of the other finalists too,

The final result looks like THIS.

While some bloggers have had the endurance to last through three SPFBOs and be ready for a 4th, it can obviously be quite a lot to take on and so each year some fraction of the field opt to sit the next year out.

This year we needed two new blogs and reserves are always handy as real life can get in the way during the course of a year. One of those places has gone to The Weatherwax Report where Esme read and reviewed an astonishing 100 of this year's SPFBO entries.

The other place is up for grabs. Clearly it serves the self published community best if I select one of the highest profile volunteers. We're open to traditional fantasy blogs, pod casters, video reviewers, in fact anyone with a means to deliver reviews to potential readers.

If you are a blogger, or part of a blog team, interested in taking part in SPFBO 4 (which will start at the end of July 2018 if a sufficient number of authors enter, or will be delayed for a year if we have drained the pool of reachable talent) then either let me know by commenting here, or email me at