On the interconnectedness of things

Couple of inspirational quotes to begin this week.

“Learn to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci quote

We are all connected; to each other biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson quote

Sure, OK, I hear you mutter as you prepare to click away to see which minor celebrity is trending for absolutely no reason on Twitter.

Well, I bring it up because it’s the driving theme of my latest, and yet to be published, novel.

Set in the not too far distant future, the earth is on the verge of destruction, ravaged by climate and disease, a new and mighty nation rises to aggressive domination. Amid this ascendency, a rare combination of technological innovation and human brilliance makes off-world travel and new world colonization finally possible.

When three massive Galaxy Cruisers are built and sent to their separate destinations, they transport the hopes of the planet with them. Families and lives are torn apart, but some connections are not so easy to cut.

As the great ships approach their destinations, one by one they are mysteriously winked out of existence. Can River and her friends find the answer, and in time, to save the last Galaxy Cruiser and with it the last hope for humanity.

The theme of connectivity is threaded through the chapters lives and motivations of the characters, and includes such concepts as quantum entanglement and quantum consciousness (qualia).

You may have guessed that I have begun the largely painful process of writing blurbs and synopsis. I am still torn wether to tread the difficult and long path of seeking representation from a literary agent or simply self-publishing. The first draft should be ready for short submission before Christmas if I choose to go that route.

If you want your spirit and confidence crushed, but not immediately, submit a manuscript you strongly believe in to a number of literary agents.

It needs the last three chapters writing, but I finally resolved some of the outstanding issues and one very echoey plot chasm (man, that one was deep). Editing will take some time, as the story is complex and relies on interactions that need to be more carefully woven through the ARC of the story. Certainly more carefully than I have currently managed in the first draft.

Still, it is exciting to be so close to completion. It’s by far my most far-reaching work and has been a real challenge to craft.

Please feel free to give me some feedback on this first draft of the blurb. Drop me an email anytime!


Follow me on Goodreads or Facebook.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Please follow the blog for future updates and my largely random thoughts.

Aging continuations

This blog is an update to the much more upbeat and optimistic blog “New Beginnings.”

In that blog (read it here), we had just arrived back in the UK and were waiting for our house to be ready at the end of November. The house is not a fancy custom build, just a very modest center terrace in the heart of Somerton. Well, with all of the supply chain BS it is obviously running late and is now scheduled for mid-Jan. That puts us in AirBnB’s through Christmas.

That is OK (I guess), at least there is nothing we can do about it. But the AirBnB’s have not been great. The search begins with much excitement, but then you enter into the filter, the dreaded words “pets accepted” and the number of results falls precipitously, apparently in direct correlation to the standards of cleanliness and decor that can be subsequently expected.

We stayed in a “cozy cottage” in Yorkshire which, while beautifully situated on the moors, had furniture so ancient, hard, angular and uncomfortable that a queue would have been formed by disgraced monks seeking a penance significantly harsher than self-flagellation, and bedding so damp I honestly awoke one morning certain that I had embarrassingly wet my self. At least I was in a single bed, so if I had disgraced myself, my wife would have been spared the opportunity to share that particular life moment.

Onto another “cozy cottage,” this one in Oxfordshire, which wont be named here because I don’t have a good lawyer. It was really just two small rooms carved, hastily and untidily, out of the back of a working barn. It had rooms filled with spiders and timbers full of worms, windows that leaked, and a hob with a mind of its own, all crammed into the smallest space that man had ever had the temerity to deem a kitchen. The rolling fields of the country estate were filled with warnings of “alarm mines” and signs depicting scowling skulls crossed with bones, that kept the dogs on leads and us on the paths. It was simply awful.

The traveling and conditions have had a detrimental effect on both the blog and the WIP. I am genuinely close to finishing the first draft of the WIP, but its the last 5 or 6 chapters, and while I know how it ends, I am endlessly procrastinating on specifically how to get there. It will run to around 44 chapters and 62,000 words and I really need to just have a word with myself and get it done.

There! Just writing that down has helped – thanks for your toleration of the whining.

On a more upbeat note, I have been running some Amazon ads and have had some positive traction on my previous book “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” Some of the reviews (every Indie writer can always do with more!), have made me blush, but more importantly, have made me believe in myself and want to continue to write.

Gothic Masterpiece, you say? Deliciously intense? Surely not!

Ahhh, shucks…color my cheeks crimson.

I really hope you take some small pleasure in the blog. I started this in May and have rapidly moved from thinking it was something I had to do, a marketing task, if you will, to thoroughly enjoying writing it. I think it has become 50% self-aggrandizement and 50% self-therapy and in doing so have built a solid foundation of followers, so thank you.

Please take a small moment to check out the rest of the website.

Follow the blog?

Maybe buy a book?

Oh yeah, and I just joined Goodreads, which is a really amazing site for readers and writers alike, and, right now, I have zero followers which is simply embarrassing, and only you can help me fix that. Click on the image below, follow me and together we can stop this (extremely minor) tragedy.

A helping hand

Sometimes that’s all we need right? A friendly shove in the right direction. A tool that simplifies a complex process. A secret whisper that hints at a better way of doing things. Thirty years in the software industry didn’t give me a hint towards the hidden and deeply mysterious realm of the self-publishing business.

So, in this blog post I am going to share with you some of what I have learned in this last amazing, maddening, exciting and wildly frustrating twelve months in the business. It will be old news to even more ancient hands, but for those aspiring to write and publish that next Man Booker, I genuinely hope this helps just a little.

The subject is truly vast, so in this post I will be focusing purely on the monster that is the “Mighty Zon.”. We will get to FB/Goodreads/BookBub/BookLife/Patreon/Pubby et al in a subsequent post.

First off, it’s super easy to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and there are literally a thousand YouTube clips and books on the subject. Believe me though, that’s really not the issue so we are not getting into that here, although I am happy to answer questions via the website or email.

The issue is exposure and visibility. Over 1 million new books get self-published every year on Amazon, and Amazon only allow you to list your masterpiece in a total of two categories for those browsing to find it. Well, there are those seven keywords as well right? Well…Amazon are not entirely transparent here. There are actually 8 categories you can pick, from a list of around 4,700. You have to identify the categories yourself though and submit via email to KDP Admins. One great tool to help is BKLNK. Find a book just like yours that is selling well, scrape the ASIN from the product page and type it into the site. It will return a list of all the categories that that successful author used, though importantly, please pick a successful fellow Indie writer. There is literally no value in linking to a Stephen King – it’s a no win option.

Another free tool to help with your product page is Kindlepreneur. When you set your book up in KDP you are prompted to enter the blurb. But there are no native formatting tools available in KDP. HTML is supported though, and this handy tool allows you generate the formatting you want in the editor and creates the HTML tags in the background.

KDP is famously flexible. You can change pretty much everything about your book whenever you want. The only thing that is a pain to change is the title – get that right before you publish. Its not impossible to change later but its far from ideal.

The next option is advertising. FB, TikTok, Instagram all have advertising platforms but the most cost effective and the one closest to point of sale is Amazon themselves. Its a short and extremely familiar hop from seeing a book that looks intriguing to get to the product page, read the reviews and click to buy. Amazon, are also extremely frugal with your money. A $5 ad can go a long way, and be profitable quickly, IF (thats a big if, if you didn’t notice) you have everything else in place. A great title, a fantastically visually and genre relevant cover, and a blurb that just compels me to click that magical buy now button all need to be in place. The hidden secret that nobody talks about is that you need to run lots of ads. Category ads, search term ads, auto ads, the entire gamut. You need at least 10 ads a week running for a single book to get the impressions (somebody on Amazon saw the fish) to generate the clicks (you got the fish on the line) to get the sale (I wont bother writing a metaphor for that one). You need around a 0.3-0.5% conversion rate on impressions to clicks ratio to be confident you will get around the subsequent 1 out of 8 clickers actually buying the book. I have heard rumors that a 5% conversion rate is possible but not by me my friend!

It’s important not to rely entirely on the KDP advertising dashboard! It doesn’t display the Kindle Direct readers sales revenue at all. For that, you have to cross correlate against the Royalties Estimator in the brand new KDP dashboard. And, if you are anything like me, you will be refreshing that dashboard every 30 seconds to see how many new sales you made. Forget about that! Amazon are good, but not that good. It takes hours (days) for the data to reconcile. And, for Kindle Direct readers, sometimes months. Think about it, they get to read for free right, so they download a book they think might be cool and then just leave it in their library and get around to actually reading it next thanksgiving.

Top tip: don’t kill ads too quickly. All the books and videos tell you to, and its probably true for any other platform but Amazon, but you need to leave them alone (see the note above about KENP). You need at least 100 clicks to generate the data that tells if you are doing OK or badly, and that takes time.

There are lots of rumors about the Zon algorithms but one I have seen from a fairly reputable source is that they favor short term ads. So run your ad for a 2 to 3 weeks, get your 100+ clicks and then tweak and re-publish, perhaps with different copy and search terms. Try crazy copy but be compelling. Oh yeah and it needs to be less than 150 characters in length. Check it on wordcounter.

Search terms I hear you ask? No? Well I will elaborate regardless. For a targeted ads you need 100 to 150 relevant terms that will lead a searcher to your book. Think, similar Indie authors, genre specific words etc. There are a bunch of data scrapers that can access a page like Goodreads Listopia and garner the terms you need. Instant Data Scraper is one such Google snap-in that works great. Some skills with excel (or access to a geeky teenager) will certainly help here to filter out the garbage. Remember the trickery here is relevancy. If your book is a steamy vampire trope, keywords such as ’17th century furniture’ and a listing of authors such as ‘William Shakespeare’ and ‘Mary Berry’ simply wont ring that bell, and you really, really want that bell to peal don’t you?

Last tip for this post is to specifically target kindle, if that is your primary target buyer. If you broadly target an author in your genre, you risk helping Zon fund their cross marketing of paperbacks and hard covers. Find the ebooks that are similar to yours and make a list of the ASIN’s they are listed under. This will help drive traffic only to your kindle sales page.

I really hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. For sure, it’s targeted at those aspiring to publish or relative newbies, but the Indie publishing industry is new and growing fast, so maybe not. None of this is written down anywhere I can find. I will keep posting as I learn more, so tell your fellow writers and give me a follow. Ask questions and together we will perhaps make this an industry where we can all make an honest buck or (mentally throws coin in fountain) a million.

Follow the blog https://andycwareing.com/blog/

email me author@andycwareing.com

Or perhaps consider keeping me from the benefits office by buying a book. Here is my latest release: https://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Edgar-Allan-Poe-ebook/dp/B096HJSZLP

New Beginnings

New beginnings as we move from the USA back to the UK. Previous book has been completely re-released and news on the latest SciFi book.

Apologies to you kind reader but I have been remiss in my ability to post a new blog the last few weeks. We decided to return from the USA to the UK and so our time has been consumed by selling our home in the US, organizing flights for us and the pups, booking AirBnB’s, buying cars and desperately passing all of the COVID tests and paperwork need to travel internationally. Good news is we all made it safe and sound.

We stayed in our old home town of Southport for a few days and picked up a second-hand Mini Cooper which, so far, is working out great. We then headed towards Ripponden in Yorkshire and are now in a tiny cottage on the Adwell estate south of Oxford. Hopefully the house we bought (mostly sight unseen) will be ready in November so until then we are gypsying it around the UK.

There are new beginnings for my last book as well this week. I took some advice and renamed and re-packaged the book, so “Surcease of Sorrow” is now called “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” It is the same book, although the title, blurb and cover convey the topic in a much clearer way I think and recent book orders would seem to agree. I took advantage of a Beta program offered by Amazon and released a hard cover as an option too. I don’t expect to sell many, as the publishing costs are significant and the margins for the author are low, but hey, who knows?

The Haunting of Edgar Allan poe

The latest Work in Progress (WIP) is progressing too. I have spent a lot of time focussing on the character ARC of Layla who is the lead protagonist in the story. I don’t think I focussed enough effort on this aspect with Haunting, and while Joseph does develop as a character it is almost accidental. Like I have said in previous posts, every day is a school day and the main thing for me is to just keep developing the craft. BTW – for any budding writers I would highly recommend a book by Libbie Hawker called “Take off your pants”. It really delves into story creation and development.

I have received some lovely reviews from strangers and many have agreed to join me on the journey by following my Facebook page which is extremely motivating!

If you did buy a book – I thank you from my heart. Please keep me away from the welfare office by leaving a review on your local Amazon store, and if you enjoyed the blog, please follow along and subscribe to the newsletter.

Children of the Night

This blog is going to drill into the differences the Indie Author faces when deciding to publish narrowly or widely.

The quote from Bram Stoker is a timeless classic right? But the title also refers to a great charity whose mission is to provide intervention in the lives of children who are sexually exploited and vulnerable to or involved in prostitution and pornography. More on how that directly relates to the indie publishing industry later on, so please read on kind and patient reader…

There are definite pros and cons to going large & wide for book channel distribution but lets first discuss the main differences between narrow and wide.

Narrow means Amazon only. The Amazon storefront is a given, a must, an essential. But then every author needs to decide if they want to distribute on Amazon Kindle Essentials, or KDP Select, as it is also called. This channel doesn’t provide book sales at all. Instead it rewards the author to share in a $38 million global pot of cash. The royalties are paid based on pages read by Kindle Select members who get to read your masterpiece for free. Each page read sends the writer a whopping $0.004297. This can add up for sure, and many people make a living in KDP Select, but for most writers out there the cost of being locked into this distribution model for 90 days is prohibitive. For example, to receive $100 I would have to generate 23,272 page reads. Hint: I am nowhere near that figure, my best day ever got 425 pages read. When you join Kindle Select you are contractually unable to sell ebooks on any other store.

The alternative is to go wide. My first book, the true life travel tale of our adventure to move from the USA to Spain, the one that sparked my career as a penniless wordsmith, “Mistakes Were Made” is still published narrow and gets decent page reads. It’s not quite “A Year in Provence” but whenever I advertise it, it does quite well and is always well reviewed. Well, apart from one lady in the UK that is, who took the time to leave me a review to let me know I was “just too full of himself.” Made my day by the way, because it is almost certainly true.

You can buy a copy here, or if you are a Kindle Select member read it for free!

My Paranormal Thriller “A Surcease of Sorrow” was just pulled from Kindle Select and I am trying a wide distribution model. This allows me to publish on all the other big name book sellers:

Wide book store distribution

I am using Draft2Digital to manage this for me. They allow a Universal Book Link to be generated which then allows the buyer to choose which store and format they prefer. On these sites I am keeping the US price $2.99 as the royalty share is the same as Amazon – 70%.

For “Surcease of Sorrow” I am really pushing the boat out and selling the ebook for only 99 cents on a brand new Indie publishing site called Godless. The link to the book is below but please go check them out regardless. They generously offer 90% of royalties to the authors who choose them for distribution. Most writers also opt in to give 5% back, which Godless uses to fund Children of the Night, who, since 1979 have rescued over 11,000 American children from sex trafficking and prostitution. You can find a donate link on the Godless website and also on this direct link URL https://www.childrenofthenight.org/

I really hope you enjoyed reading the blog today. I do try to couple shameless self promotion with some insights into the underground working of the self-publishing industry and hope you find that as interesting as I do. The journey continues so follow along on the blog, sign up for the monthly newsletter and get some cool updates on my latest Sci-Fi project. Just writing stories and telling tales – Andy C wareing

The dolphin whisperer

I had to take some time this week when we weren’t traveling, to work on September’s Newsletter. We were busy taking a trip to Fort Myers this week to say farewell (for a while) to both a great friend and to the crazy state of Florida. We also took a dolphin viewing trip on the inter-coastal which was very cool. My wife always asks the guides if the dolphins ever make the clicking noise out of the water (you know, like Flipper did in the 1980s). The guides response is typically a chuckle and an amused shake of their heads. Well…this time, one dolphin jumped out of the water, looked directly at Paula and trilled and whistled right at her. MADE…HER…YEAR! She is certain that she is now able to converse with the entire species…and who knows, she might be right.

I am going to include chapter one of the latest WIP in that edition to all subscribed members (so be sure to follow the link below and join soon!). The latest WIP is a work of hard SciFi. Its set not too far in the future and is themed around the joys of friendship and collaboration triumphing over autocracy and tyranny, all intertwined with a fleet of Galaxy cruisers, whose fates hang desperately in the balance. It’s close to 75% complete at around 43000 words (less edits) so will hopefully be available by the end of the year, if I can find the time, focus and energy to stop writing blogs, tweets and newsletters and actually write the damn book.

I (not very humbly) think its by far the best thing I have written to date, and it’s certainly been a challenge in range of both characters, backstories, side plots and just pure, all out technical research to make sure it stays within genre. For those not familiar with “hard” SciFi my previous blog goes into some detail. Take a read here:

Hard SciFi (in more ways than one)

For those who subscribe to the blogs and newsletter, you will receive more previews as the book progresses. I will also be asking (begging) for feedback and ideas on titles, blurbs and book covers as I get closer to publishing, so don’t miss out!

I really hope you enjoyed reading this blog post! If you found it interesting or even a little informative, please subscribe to the blog and sign up to my newsletter. The link is in that BIG GREEN box right there…no, look up a bit, there ya go! In addition, if there is anything in particular that interests you, feel free to reach out by email or the contact form. I’m always happy to answer any questions about my books and the writing and publishing process in general. It’s been a crazy year of learning the nuances of Amazon KDP, Facebook Ads, Instagram in general and the dreaded pixel in particular, so happy to share with new authors and the more generally interested readership.

Hard SciFi (in more ways than one)

Science fiction is often thought of as a genre that depicts the future or some imagined world, but it also can be used to explore and explain present-day issues. This blog post will examine hard science-fiction. It’s going to get hard—in more ways than one!

The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell‘s Islands of Space. It is characterized by a focus on accuracy of logic and adherence to something achievable, or close to achievable with current technology. The subject of the genre should exist within the realm of scientific possibility.

The research for my latest book has been both arduous and fun in equal measure. One day I found a useful calculator that measures time dilation based on percentage of proximity to light speed travel which I spent way too much time playing around with. Try it here:

I tried to keep the space travel elements grounded in reality. None of the Galaxy Cruisers in my book can travel at anywhere close to the speed of light (c) ,so the journeys the occupants face are loooong.

I use Tokamak Torus magnetic reconnection propulsion systems for the space travel elements. It’s the same physics that can be seen on the surface of our Sun. Magnetic lines converge there and then split apart. When they re-combine they release truly enormous amounts of energy. The Tokamak Torus confinement field harnesses that energy and converts it into a plasma field that could be sustained (even using today’s technology) in the Mega-Ampere level, the sort of energy seen in the most powerful lightning bolts.

Hard SciFi
Solar Mass Plasma Ejection

The new book also delves into the bizarre concept of “Qualia” and how that interleaves with “quantum consciousness” but I will leave that for another post, as I just finished writing that chapter and my brain still smarts.

If you’ve been looking for a new science fiction book that is both “hard” and grounded in reality, I encourage you to subscribe to the blog or sign up for my newsletter. https://andycwareing.com/promotions/

I am roughly 70% done with the structure so hope to publish within the next three months, so let’s keep in touch on progress, release dates, early access to chapters and all things sci-fi!

Channelling my inner wizards.

A very different week for me this week. Instead of sweating and being bitten by ravenous mosquitoes in Atlanta, I am instead, taking shelter from the rain in leafy, pleasant Britain.

An urgent need to find a place to live has brought me across the Atlantic, masked, sanitized and tested, to the gentle rolling and sheep speckled hills of Somerset. It’s barely 65 degrees out, so I am wearing jeans and scratching the recent bites I received doing yard work to get the house in America ready for sale.

There are benefits to being in Britain though. I started my journey in Glastonbury (to get yet another Covid test, this one needed to hopefully allow me back into the USA later in the week).

Glastonbury is a charmingly bizarre place. Lots of folks here dress like wizards and witches, full regalia mind, cloaks, staffs, long white beards. Not for a special occasion either, this is just a normal Monday morning in this town. The shops here really only sell books of spells, magical charms, wind-chimes, crystals and as many pointy black hats you can shake a broomstick at. It’s partly to do with the Arthurian folklore based around the famous Tor, that does indeed eerily dominate the skyline for miles. But it’s not JUST that. This place is a genuine draw for the displaced and the unconventional, those who refuse to adhere to the norms (whatever they are) of society. You can call them hippies and gypsies, but overall the people of Glastonbury embrace their charms, oddness and uniqueness.

My taxi driver told me a story, that one day, without warning or introduction, a stranger appeared in the town dressed entirely as a Roman Centurion, the full regalia, armor, plumed helmet, sword, ankle boots, the whole thing. He would march around town, silent and aloof , never made a single friend and never appeared out of costume (uniform?) and then two years later disappeared without a trace. Nobody knew who he was or why he did what he did. How wonderful is that? The actual word “wonder-ful” was made for that nameless stranger – morituri te salutant!

I expect to have lots of rushing around time, interspersed with hours of waiting for the next appointment, all stretched out over three days. In the downtime I really want to catch up with my writing. The visit to Glastonbury has been a good reminder that reaching for the differences is a good muscle to mentally stretch. The progress on the new Sci-Fi hasn’t exactly stalled out, but it isn’t blistering along either. It can be too easy to fall into the mundane, the overworked trope. I am going to harness my inner wizard and don my plumed gladiator Galea and go strut my stuff, unfazed by the stares of passersby (only in a more quiet, self-effacing and indoors-y manner).

Different and wacky are not just cool, they can be great. In the world of writing, this means that you should shake things up a bit. Be different from your competitors by presenting something new to readers or showing them an innovative way to introduce new and fascinating characters. If it’s done well enough, people will flock to your website for more information on what makes you unique and buy more books! So don’t let fear get in the way of being creative with how you market yourself or your products—go big (or go home!). You never know where success may lie; if there is one thing we know about humans, it’s that they love exploring novelty and pushing boundaries.

BTW – fingers crossed I ace this Covid test. The alternative is a 10 day quarantine and i neither have the time to spare or a place to spare it in.

If you enjoyed this blog please follow along for the ride, I certainly don’t know where it’s going!

Oh yeah, and consider joining the monthly newsletter Here

From science nerd to Sci-Fi writer

I am definitely a bit of a science nerd. I was immediately hooked by the 80’s TV series “Cosmos” hosted by the wonderful and enigmatic Carl Sagan. The episodes had the most intriguing names to capture the eager mind of an easily influenced teenage boy. Sorry, for some reason Daisy Duke just came to mind. Catherine Bach and Carl Sagan – those were some formative years!

Anyway back to Sagan’s episodes. Episodes with names such as “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean,” “One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue,” and the episode that deftly dealt with the possibilities of infinite universes and multiverses, “The Edge of Forever.” Incredible stuff.

A little later, I went on to read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” and then continued on to battle through Brian Greene’s “Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Universe” and “The Hidden Reality.” Despite the Washington Post calling him “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today,” he constantly challenged the ability of my meagre brain to follow his logic, and truly comprehend the theories he posited. I must have read and re-read the chapters and books a hundred times trying to fully understand the nuances of his revelations.

When I started to write I dabbled with a couple of genres. My first book was based on a true life experience, our adventures of traveling from the USA to Spain during Covid 19. My next book sprang more from an idea I had when I read about the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe. He died in extremely strange and sinister circumstances after going missing for five days, and then turning up entirely deranged and wearing clothes not his own. That book tilted towards the paranormal. Not because that was the genre I wanted to write, but because the idea I had chose the genre.

But deep down, it was always Science Fiction for me and my nerdy brain. The new book (yet to be titled) is a work in progress that includes standards such as time dilation and quantum mechanics, but also pushes the boundaries of innovative (and almost to be attained) propulsion systems, and the entirely theoretical (possibly even pseudo-science) of quantum consciousness. Every chapter surprises me with the new directions I am able to take the story.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it interesting. If science fiction is your thing, be sure to subscribe or sign up for our newsletter so we can keep the conversation going! In the next blog I will talk more detail of the bleeding edge technologies I am leveraging in the book.

I will leave you with one last memory from the 80’s that also influenced me greatly…altogether fellow Gen Xers…”Your a wonder…”

A different environment

Writing is a deeply social activity, we write so that other can read our stories after all. The difference is that it is largely undertaken in complete solitude. I hear that some writers start their manuscripts in the hubbub of a noisy coffee shop, only moving to more peaceful surroundings for final proofreading and editing. I prefer silence.

It has been something I have struggled to find since moving back to the USA. We lived for eight months in a sleepy rural village called Somerton in the green rolling sheep speckled hills of South-West England. It helped that BoJo had everybody completely locked down for several months, but during that time I was writing at least a chapter a day (1800 words on average). My word rate had dropped precipitously since moving to the US and I blame the environment.

In the UK we would rise late, drink some tea and feast on Warburton’s toasted bread, piled high with hot melting butter, and then walk the dogs across a couple of miles of damp and muddy fields (often having to carry Pi across the deeper puddles).

After a lunch of bacon sandwiches I would settle in to write for at least three hours, intermittently working on a new chapter, and then editing the previous days work, before breaking to drink more tea and watch a Tipping Point on TV.

Here in the States, neither myself or Paula have managed to settle into a good and regular routine. There is always something to be done to the house, or the yard, or things to be purchased. The weather has been too hot and humid to really walk the dogs or play any tennis and my writing routine has largely fallen by the wayside.

Despite all of those things, I am still over half way through the latest work in progress. Its a science fiction story, which should yield a series if I don’t screw it up too badly. The story is set not too far in a dystopian future, where the warlike Maori nation has risen to control what remains of the worlds dwindling resources, and launch an attempt at off-world colonization. Layla and her friends are desperately trying to save the crew and colonists of the “Tuatahi” Galaxy cruiser as she nears her destination.

There are heaps of quantum entanglement and relativistic time dilation issues to deal with which has been fun to research.

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