Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Calling : on a screen near you...

OK, now I get to write one of those "The Making Of..." special features you find on the second DVD in the case. ;-) Basically, yesterday I saw on Twitter a web page dedicated to publicising indie authors' promotional videos. And it was a free special offer. What independent author can refuse free publicity?

But the issue was time, not money. I had to go out in a couple of hours, to keep a number of appointments I couldn't put off or miss. So I rushed into the video-making business, planned a script, ran out of time...

...Finally finished it today and uploaded it, much shorter and simpler than I'd envisioned at first. This was mainly because I checked a few of the other authors' clips and saw what kind of thing was popular. I'm now all revved up to produce a more in-depth, chatty thing where I talk to the camera about the story. But don't hold your breath!


By the way, the breathtaking new image you see in this video, and that now graces the covers of the Kindle and print editions, is by my new friend Victor Habbick, a professional photographer and artist who lives in Scotland. He kindly produced the image of the crashed space fighter in exchange for a copy of the book! He claimed that his wife will take it into the school where she teaches and read it to the children, but I think he might have a peep between the covers himself. Anyway, a BIG THANKYOU, Victor!

And the music soundtrack is borrowed from the astounding Celtic Christian folk-rock band Iona and their album The Book Of Kells. I've emailed the band for permission to use the 45 seconds of music but received no reply so far. So I haven't published the video on Amazon yet.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

THE CALLING : Science Fiction for free on Amazon Kindle!

So I have The Calling, this great adventure story about Valin the average nomad, who has to rescue the man who saved his life. It's the sort of science fiction story I would have read in my pre-teen years, I think, if I had heard about it. I'm working hard on the publicity side of it these days, learning the best way to tell people about the novel.

Amazon Kindle has this program called KDP Select which allows authors to promote their book for free for up to 5 days out of 90. I'm going to try it out on Monday October 8th and see what it does to the book's rating. The idea is that there are large numbers of cash-strapped readers out there who are hunting for free reads. I have to admit I've been there and tried it! Then, when lots of them download the book, its rating climbs. Then, after the free period, others will notice the book more and be more likely to buy it.

Science fiction is a funny thing. A writer is constantly inventing things that don't exist, and may never exist, spinning yarns that sound more plausible than their cousins in the Fantasy department, but still, the more startling and even shocking a story is, the better it may catch on. I admit that The Calling is not especially shocking: very little gore, no teenage vampires, no nauseating aliens dismembering their tranquilized victims. Instead I hope that The Calling portrays realistic characters caught up in events way beyond the normal routine of life, and discovering inner resources and inner conflicts too. The way they resolve those conflicts may help some of us think through how we can resolve our own messy lives. And I trust that enough readers will appreciate this side of the story to tell their friends about it.

We'll see. Do you want a free e-book? A pre-teen (mid-grade) science fiction story? Visit The Calling at Amazon Kindle on Monday October 8th. The promotion starts at midnight, US Pacific time, which is about 10am UK time. It runs for 24 hours. Maybe we'll meet up there.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

More on Valin's Log

I remember reading The Lord Of The Rings and wondering where elves came from, and what happened to King Aragorn next, and who lived in all the spaces on the map of Middle Earth, and what adventures you could have if you wandered off the eastern edge of the map...

Then I discovered books like The Silmarillion, a collection of stories building up the history and folklore of the main story. So that answered some of my questions. Painting a broad and colourful backdrop to a story is a great thing to attempt, and I'm amazed at how much Tolkien accomplished.

I hope to construct just such a foundation for The Calling and, eventually, the Beyond The Elder Stars series. You can find what I've done so far if you click on Valin's Log to the left of the screen, under 'John's Handy Links'. Be sure to explore some of the worlds that Valin has heard of under Star Catalog, although he mainly writes down the stories of travellers he's met in Elmara City. To catch a glimpse of a few of the spacecraft he knows about, visit Tech Specs. The other two side-buttons fill in some of the big blank spaces in the planet Elmarune's history and geography.

It's a big project I've set myself. Please be patient and forgiving as it slowly takes form - I'm doing it in my spare time. And I'm not giving everything away: Valin doesn't know much at all about the Inborls, and at this point has never heard of Drokstrak or Elha. In fact, at this point even I don't know very much about the Inborls...