Viva Fractopia!

Yay! I get to work on UbiquiCity 2!

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I collaborated with several other writers a while back to create an anthology called UbiquiCity. I was approached by Tod Foley to help with the project after he read my WIP, Hermes925. What followed were several video conference calls in which the writers developed a world together, and then came up with characters and short stories within that world.

As you may have gathered from the images on this post, the stories all take place in a futuristic ‘smart city’, or UbiquiCity (a city in which smart technology is fully integrated and ubiquitous), populated not only with people, but also countless drones flying overhead, and AI’s moving wirelessly and invisibly across the city.

This is similar to Hermes925 in many respects, but it takes place about 20 years earlier. People use various smart devices from several manufacturers using different operating systems and carriers. This can cause compatibility issues, and gaping exploits for hackers.

There are also some parts of Union City, as we called it, that are not so shiny. Run down slums where the people can’t afford the technology to keep up, though some come up with inventive, and not precisely legal, ways to circumvent the system. These people are known as ‘Scrumblies’ or ‘Discons’ by the connected majority.

The result is a culture that is utopian for some and dystopian for others. Tod came up with the term ‘Fractopia’ to describe it, allowing us to differentiate from cyberpunk and grimdark sci-fi, though there are elements in common. Tod not only hope to establish Fractopian fiction as a genre in it’s own right, but to develop UbiquiCity into a roleplay gaming system.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the depth and scope of the world we’ve created. If I’ve whet your appetite and you’d like to know more about the project, you can learn more on the UbiquiCity website and support the development of more books, and the gaming system, by becoming a Patreon subscriber and/or buying the book from Amazon:

We’d all be very grateful to you if you did.

Thank you and have a great day 🙂

Improving my Chances

I’ve known for quite some time that The Haunted Story: Dead Letter needed a better cover. My amateurish attempt wasn’t catching anyone’s eye.

Dead Letter cover
The cover I designed myself

I needed something professional and eye-catching. An image that would sell the book for me. So far I’ve only sold any when I’ve found people on Facebook that are spooky horror fans and pitched the book to them. I don’t mind talking about my stories, it’s just a little more time consuming than I’d like since I also need to finish writing Hermes925, keep this blog up to date, try to find odd-jobs and freelance work so I can pay my way while I’m doing all this, and keep working on the rest of the Haunted Story series!

The fact that I needed better cover art was so distracting I couldn’t even focus on my book projects, knowing that every book I put out would require similar one-on-one marketing to sell. Then yesterday, driven by who knows what, I posted one of my favourite conversation topics on Facebook:

If you could
Click the pic to see people’s comments and add your own!

As a result I ended up having a very productive conversation with Heather Montgomery, a talented cover designer, merch maker, and author in her own right! She designs most of her own covers. Check out her website to see some of her other work. She came up with these three great designs for me:

It took me a while to pick a favourite because they were each so awesome in their own way, and far better than mine. If the Amazon page has already been updated, then you might already know that I ended up picking this one:

The Haunted Story - Dead Letter eCover
Isn’t it spectacular?

I love it! I’m going to use Heather’s designs for all of the Haunted Story series, and the sci-fi Hermes925 too! If I get the chance to do a book-signing event of some kind in future I will probably have her design some matching T-shirts for each book too!

I am unbelievably excited about this partnership. Please check out her website and show her some love. She writes under the name Ann Snizek, and her new paranormal/scifi For: Giva de Vine, is for available through a variety of online sources.

Please help us both out and share this article around and, as always, have a great day! 🙂

The Haunted Story Continues!

 The Haunted Story: Dead Letter is my first work of fiction on Amazon. If you’re into horror, ghost stories and gore, then this book is perfect for you. Especially if you’re just looking for a quick read, and it’s only 99p!

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I’m currently writing the story of Janet Burrows. The homicide detective that’s been assigned to this case. I’ve been writing a little more each day, even when I don’t feel like it or it’s been a hard shift at the night-job, or I’ve been dealing with drama in the Creative Writers group (it’s inevitable with a Facebook Group this big)!

I want to get Janet’s story up quickly. It’s a full story, not just a letter. It will show you, the reader, what Mark Anderson can do now that he’s dead! Originally I was going to try to write the story in journal entries and case notes written by Detective Burrows, but that’s not the way it’s coming out.

Book 2 is written in the third person perspective, which allows the reader to be able to see the big picture and see what the characters don’t. First person might have made it feel more personal and immediate, but based on the way the story is taking shape, I think people are going to still be reading the book while under a blanket, clutching a pillow and yelling, “No! Don’t do that!” at the book!

I’m not sure what to call book 2 yet. I may just call it ‘The Haunted Story’ and leave subtitles for the supplements (like Dead Letter). However, I’m also planning to write a sequel following a journalist/ blogger that’s determined to get the details of the case for an article. Maybe I should name each book for its main character?

This would make the story I’m writing now ‘Detective Burrows’ or just ‘Burrows’. This sounds good, but that would also mean changing ‘Dead Letter’ to ‘Anderson’. This sounded ridiculous in my head, but now that I’ve written it, I think I like it.

I had intended to begin publishing Hermes925, but apparently, Janet really wanted to tell her story! I also found out that the ‘Diversions from Drudgery’ magazine project is still a go! I already agreed to publish the story through them, a few entries at a time. The revisions I was planning to make can wait. If I make any changes now, it will confuse readers that have already started reading the current version.

I’m also pleased to see that the ‘UbiquiCity’ project is making progress too. The  Sci-Fi RPG sourcebook, which includes a short story written by me, should soon be available on RPGnow.com. I’m sure I’ll end up writing an article about it, and another for the first issue of DfD, as soon as they both become available.

‘The War on Magic’ and ‘Timechain’ stories have both been put back on hold, for now, though I’m sure I’ll dip back into them if and when the mood strikes me. For now, ‘The Haunted Story: Burrows’ is my priority.

I have, however, also been trying to update my social media presence. Both LinkedIn and GoodReads have been recommended to me by fellow writers. LinkedIn to expand my professional connections including fellow writers, editors, games designers and movie-producers. GoodReads to find and interact with my audience, and also to cross-promote with other writers.

Updating my LinkedIn profile already allowed me to notice an opportunity I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. A writing job working for the company that designed my favourite game system. It’s been on my ‘dream jobs’ list for quite some time. I haven’t heard anything back yet, but it’s only been four days since the deadline. If I don’t get it, I’ll keep networking and writing, and try again the next time a similar opportunity arises.

I’m still playing with GoodReads. In fact, this blog post is motivated by the fact I just linked my WordPress blog feed with my GoodReads author page. If you’re a fellow GoodReads Author reading this, and you know how to update the cover image for my book (it’s already changed on Amazon, but hasn’t updated on GoodReads yet) please talk me through the process as I have yet to figure it out myself.

If anyone has any more tips on using GoodReads and LinkedIn, or recommended cross-promotion groups, I’d love to hear them. I am, of course, still on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great day 🙂

 

So Much To Do

I finally had an idea for a story for Project Ubi (the team working on the RPG Sourcebook). We’re supposed to be discussing the draft at our next meeting. The draft will definitely need a rewrite before then because I began writing it just by describing the key character to myself. It’s not much more than notes.

I haven’t finished the pen and paper version yet, and the next meeting is March first. So I have 15 days left to finish it and rewrite it. I’m not terribly worried about it being shorter than I wanted it to be at this point. I will no doubt have to add to it, and perhaps rewrite it completely, to incorporate more of the game lore we’re creating. Plus it should get written quicker if it’s short!

In addition to that, I also need to get the short story I’m calling “Before the War” finished. I’ve decided that when I eventually write “The War on Magic“, this story will act as it’s prelude. This is a story I intend to submit to the “Writers of the Future” writing contest, which gives me a chance of winning $500, $750 or $1000 if it’s one of the top 3 stories submitted that quarter.

If I miss this quarter I can submit it for the next one, but I’d like to enter as soon as possible. I may even try for a different publication, such as “Diversions From Drudgery” who are already serializing Hermes925. DfD will also let me publish items that have already been published elsewhere, while a lot of the other publications don’t. It seemed to me that it would be smarter to submit each story elsewhere first (before it’s been printed), and then to DfD after.

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Am I making things overly complicated? Should I just keep writing for the publication I already have a relationship with, and quit trying to game the system? I’m just thinking that, if it works, I could potentially be getting paid twice for every one-off story I write (providing that it’s accepted).

I also need to keep making time to write Hermes925, and make time to find additional opportunities to write for money. I’m really getting sick of being broke. I would appreciate it if you became a paid subscriber if you haven’t already, so I don’t need to be so dependent on being accepted by magazines to make money. I’m still waiting to find out if my Ghost Story for an upcoming publication called “A Horror of Words” has been accepted.

It would be awesome if I could post the stories I’m writing to this website, send an e-reader copy to my paid subscribers, and make enough money to help my family pay the bills and save up for a place of my own. I’ve considered also offering to write unique stories on commission.

I’ve considered also offering to write unique stories on commission. This would be a story that only you have. I will never post it or submit it, it would be just for you (or your intended recipient). As a result, you can be a character in the story and include your friends and family. You could also make it a comedic story in which the characters have odd flaws and quirks, whatever the client (you) want.

Off course, paid subscribers would get a discount, and may even get short stories and flash fiction for free. It seems smarter to get paid directly by fans than hoping a third party would like my work enough to pay me and publish me. Particularly since I’ll then have to promote their publication, for free, to my fans or you’ll never get to read it.

I seem to have a real problem with working for other people! I want to sell direct to the reader and cut out the middle man! At least that’s how I feel today. On other days I want to have a well-known publisher printing copies of my book and putting them on bookshelves all over the world. Today though I’m just seeing dusty volumes that don’t get read. Let’s save some money and resources and just deal directly and electronically. 🙂

Anyway, I got to get cracking on finishing the Project Ubi story!

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Give Me Another One!

I’m going to be brief, just to catch you up, but then I’m going to go back to hunting!

As you know I’ve been trying to get Hermes925 finished. The theory being that the sooner I get it finished, the sooner I can pitch it to publishers and get it on the shelves. The only problem being that in the mean time my cash reserves are dwindling to nothing. If I wasn’t living with family right now I’d be scuppered.

I’ve been aware for some time that it’s possible to sell short stories to anthologies and magazines, but I’ve been putting it off. Currently, I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s just that I hadn’t found one I wanted to write yet.

However, a couple of very exciting things have happened since I started networking more actively on Facebook and Twitter. Firstly I was pointed in the direction of an e-zine publisher that is willing to publish Hermes925 as a series, starting with the first 3 entries, in their bi-monthly publication.

The publication is called Diversions from Drudgery, and they are still looking for contributors. So if you want in, contact Chris Maddock or join the Diversions from Drudgery Facebook group. They need writers and artists.

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I also didn’t realize that one of the writing groups, called Fiction Writing, I was in also had their own series of short story collections, until it came up in a conversation in the group. The theme for the next one is ghosts. My first thought was a ‘ghost in the machine’ idea. An MMORPG gamer dies, but he remains online, continuing to exist in the game and scares the shit out of his surviving friends (until they get used to it).

Turns out it’s been done and was even a film. I might have still been able to go with it if I told the story differently, but I wanted to do something new. I was wide awake in bed thinking about what I knew about ghosts from when I was a kid collecting unsolved mystery cards and reading Usborne books.

allaboutghosts
This was one of my favorites.

What if someone had decided to treat these books that try to explain the existence of ghosts as a ‘how-to’ guide and set out to become a ghost himself? That’s the premise of a short story I just submitted to Scout Media. I’m looking forward to telling you more about that too when I have something more to tell.

So now I’m looking for more publications that accepting submissions that I want to write. I now know that I can come up with an idea, write, re-write and proof a piece in a few days. It may take me a little longer occasionally, but the idea of writing for magazines no longer seems as daunting as it once did.

I’m going to get back to looking for more opportunities now. There’s bound to someone looking for a story I want to write 🙂

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Making Friends

I’ve been rediscovering the practical networking applications of Twitter. For a long time, I’ve been avoiding it because I get sucked in. I’ll browse through the newest tweets, scrolling through the nonsense to try and find something worth reading, knowing that there might be gold if I just keep looking. The entire time I can see the new Tweets counters going up. Brand new tweets vying for my attention.

I keep scrolling until the temptation of the new overcomes my need to thoroughly check the old ones, then start back at the top. I hate myself a little for giving up my search but begin scrolling through the new tweets hoping that it was worth it. Sometimes I find something worth sharing or writing an article about, but most of the time I’m just scrolling, searching, until the new tweets call me once more.

I know I need to clean up my feed a bit and unfollow the accounts that I skip over, but while I’m doing that I might miss something that would make the hunt worth it. When I originally opened the account I was trying to jump on the ‘social media marketing guru’ bandwagon. It seemed like my employer at the time, as well as most other businesses, were under-utilising and misusing social media. I thought I could make an impression at the company by devising an effective strategy.

Not only did my suggestions fall on deaf ears, but my attempts to use my own ‘expertise’ to market my home business (a now defunct tarot-reading service) fell flat. It didn’t help that the more I networked within the company, the less I liked the people I was working with. I read countless books on networking, negotiating, social media, self-motivation, leadership and entrepreneurship to try and make it happen, but the entire process made me feel dishonest.

I kept it up as long as I could stomach it though because I wanted to make more money, repair the roof on my house, and perhaps prove to my (now ex-)wife that I wasn’t actually worthless. I also really liked the idea or writing my own book on the subject. It occurred to me even then that I didn’t actually need to be successful in order to write a convincing book. In fact writing a book on the subject may have made my advice seem more legitimate.

I had to give up trying because she didn’t like being away from home so much, and then the marriage broke down anyway. Which was very frustrating. However, it got me writing. Not about ways to manipulate people into buying stuff they didn’t want, but about magical worlds generated by a powerful network of computers to keep the human population blinkered and pacified.

This time as I dive back into Twitter I’m doing so to share my true passion, and learn from others that have walked the same path before me. Some of these new friends I’m making are fellow authors, but I’m also making some great connections with musicians and gamers. I wanted to share some of these connections with you.

In addition to the tweets and video posted above, I also wanted to introduce you Duality. I actually met Michelle via Facebook, but it still counts because I say so! That and it’s still a connection I’ve made as part of my efforts to network and build contacts in the writing community. Give Duality a read. You won’t regret it.

Follow Kevin, Angela, Darren and myself, and dramatically improve your Twitter feed. If you’re reading this via email or WordPress reader and don’t see the video and links, go to the actual webpage (https://antonymcopeland.me/2017/01/24/making-friends) and while you’re at it, browse around and read some Hermes925!

Hermes925 isn’t finished yet, but you can read the story so far. If you want to help me get it finished, revised and published please choose one of the paid subscription offers below. You’ll be guaranteeing yourself a free copy of the finished book, as well as some additional perks, if you do.

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Have a great day 🙂

Encouraging Expressive Endeavours

I believe that writers should help out other writers. We’re all trying to make it. To that end I occasionally like to post a book spotlight, recommend a blogger, or even just post a link to someone else’s website. I’d like to do more, thought I also need to remember to work on my own writing, and not get so absorbed in networking and writing articles for others that my own book(s) never get finished.

Having said that, there’s several people that deserve a shout-out and words of encouragement. Great people who have decided to focus on their passion for writing, despite the fact (as my Dad often reminds me) that many writers never make it. Being a writer is a tough, often unforgiving and unrewarded calling, and these guys deserve a medal for even trying.

Sunbow Pendragon already got an entire article dedicated to her, but she still deserves a round of applause. She has 10 books published, but she has yet to become well known despite the fact that her readers love her. Many of us, myself included, think that once someone loves your work they’ll tell everyone else. The word will spread like wildfire and you’ll be famous in no time. This is sadly not the case, and these flames need to be fanned.

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I also did a book spotlight for Terminus by Jay Milius. Jaye has taken a different approach and used a website I’ve considered using myself called Inkshares.com to promote her book before it was even published. She now has 260 copies of Terminus sold due to her dedication, passion and self-promotion. I’m looking forward to receiving the copy I pre-ordered.

Geoffrey Porter is currently working on a military sci-fi, and also runs and edits an online magazine for short fiction of all kinds. It’s called “Untied Shoelaces of the Mind” and it’s a great collection. He’s very helpful. He pointed out that my Hermes925 sample lacked a description of the interior of the spacecraft. He has a point. It would be a new experience to Jaime, he’d probably enthusiastically describe every detail he could remember. I may work on that later today so I can resubmit it.

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I also wanted to applaud lostgirl131 for posting her second article on her brand new blog Journal of a Lost Girl. The article is called Always Keep Fighting, and it’s about Jared Padalecki’s campaign to help people fight depression. I’m a big fan since I also fight depression and believe that it’s better to fight it than just give in and be depressed. Publically acknowledging your depression is very brave, especially if you tend to be shy and introverted. Keep up the good work Lost Girl!

Last but not least, I’m proud of my nieces, both of whom want to be writers when they grow up. Bethany, who’s 9 has even written a couple of short stories already and wants to be the youngest published author. Her sister Imogen (6) does too, but I think that’s mostly because she wants to do everything her sister does. Imogen says she wants to practice writing more before she writes a book. Bethany’s books are charming little pre-school children’s stories, I’d love to show you one when we can figure out which moving box they were packed in! It would be so great if her work was actually published and used in schools. 🙂

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Would you like a mention in a future article? I’d be happy too help. Like I said, writers need to help each other out. I’ll also love the opportunity to help artists and musicians get the word out, and perhaps even help bring several different creative types together in a mutually supportive and perhaps even collaborative community. If you like this idea let me know. You could even help me come up with a name for the group!

As always I’d appreciate any and all feedback, either in the comments below, via the contact me page, or on Facebook. Have a great day!