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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Amazing resources for writers

When I started out writing and self-publishing I really struggled to understand where successful writers were getting there information from.

Then slowly, bit by bit I stumbled across forums and websites that provided guidance and sometimes even free services to rookies and pros alike. I thought it would be nice to try and share some of these back to folks. Many of the sites listed are useful for everybody, not just us writing luvvie types btw.

Free images for book covers, promotions etc:

Free 3D Book images for advertising:

Free HTML Formatting Generator for writing blurbs etc on KDP:

Free site that mines your published book and returns all the categories it is listed under on Amazon (tip: Amazon shows you can list up to only two. There are actually eight but you have to contact KDP directly). The site also has the ability to generate a Universal Book Link:

And finally, at least for the moment, I urge you to join this Facebook Group. It is called 20BooksTo50K. It has an amazing support group and mountains of guidance and tips, as well as a super responsive and helpful team of members.

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While my Guitar Gently Wept

Some dear friends bought me a guitar today as a leaving present.

I say they bought it me today, but in reality, today was merely the day I took receipt of her.

She had enjoyed a journey of over twenty thousand miles over a period of twelve months for us to be finally united in musical disharmony. As a humble acoustic guitar she may be the most well-travelled instrument outside the entourage of a world famous internationally touring rock band. On her journey, she has obtained Diamond Platinum status on British Airways, Delta and Virgin, and accrued more air miles than most of us who travel a lifetime.

She began her journey in Maryland USA, where she was purchased and tastefully customized with a silver rose inlay on her delicate lower frets. She was sent with love and letters to a remote villa in Altea Spain, but her seductive curves attracted the sharp, but predominantly heterosexual (and almost definitely pervy) attention of the customs officers in Madrid. She sat there for a long time, imprisoned, as we in the villa were planning our Covid inspired escape to England. Sadly, when she was finally released and delivered we had already left.

In her ever deteriorating packaging she took a long detour back to MD; weary mail hub by weary mail hub she was rudely handled and sorted and stamped and scanned. She rattled along in the backs of vans and jostled in packed crates in the airless and frosty holds of 747’s until she turned up unexpectedly on the doorstep of the original sender, who stood on his doorstep, reading all of the airline and customs stamps with his head tilted, scratching his beard and straightening his pork pie hat with an odd and quizzical expression.

Off she went again, this time with confident certainty to arrive at her intended destination, Somerset, England. Back in the cradle of the 747 she streaked across the Atlantic. She quickly cleared customs in Heathrow, where the customs officers were immune to her sexy tonal roundness in the way only the British can be. The British Mail van that sought to deliver her turned the corner onto West Street just as we pulled out of the driveway of the cottage and headed in a cab back towards where she had originated, Heathrow.

Undelivered once more, her packaging ripped and rent, and cheekily revealing more than a bridge too far, back she went to Heathrow. At some point I like to think that me and my beauty were within the same terminal, star crossed lovers, separated by mere feet from a romance to challenge the ages. We may have been on the same 747 that blistered the skies back towards America. But I was destined for Atlanta and you were returned to an ever increasingly startled bearded man in MD.

With an indefatigable spirit not seen since WWII, his pork pie was once again straightened and back to the UPS office he strode with steps never more resolute. This time to mail the seductive curves of the twangy (yes, twangy, the guitar has an amazing tone, but I am not the maestro you believe me to be from my profile picture) goddess to an address in the USA.

And that’s where I finally found my leaving present, twelve months after the start of our combined journeys, from the USA to England, across Europe to Spain, back to England and finally a return to the USA. This beautiful, huggable beauty was waiting for me in my garage this morning. Sent by incredible lifelong friends who would not cease in their efforts to unite us. The most travelled and seductive guitar in the world (and her incredible airline status gets me access to first class travel whenever I am with her 😉

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Endless self-aggrandizement

One of the hardest things I find about transitioning from a traditional working role (i.e. Employee) to one as an indie writer and author is the perpetual need to self-promote. I am certain my family and FB friends are weary of my incessant posts (and now blogs for crying out loud!). “When will it end, please God, make him stop,” I can hear them cry.

The problem for the Indie author is that there really is no other option. I am really a very quiet, and while my wife will wholeheartedly disagree, modest person. And yet here I am writing another blog post on a wet Tuesday morning in Atlanta that I will post to FB, LinkedIn and Twitter in the vain hope that I will get some love (and likes and shares and retweets and a follower or two, maybe even a subscriber to the blog or newsletter, or perhaps somebody will end up buying a book or three – come on people get with the damn program, it’s not that hard!).

Of course that’s really the end goal. To engage with sufficient like minded individuals, who might like my writing and stories enough to part with a few hard earned dollars or pounds or Euros and ultimately enjoy the tales in my head.

Anyhoo – in the spirit of the blog today, here is another selfless selfie with my latest published book “A Surcease of Sorrow” available for free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Happy reading and follow the blog and visit the website to sign up for the newsletter!

Inspiration

“If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”

Dan Poynter

I was thinking about inspiration yesterday, while struggling with a weighty chapter in my latest writing project. It’s a science fiction novel and has way more complexity and depth than anything I have written so far. I often find myself stuck for how to proceed with a character or how to smoothly transition to a sub plot. I read that the word inspiration stems from the latin verb “insiprare” meaning to infuse animation or influence into the human soul.

Nothing so grand for me unfortunately. The quote by Dan Poynter comes closer to how I work at the moment. I find it better to write something. If I come to a dead end, I can work on another chapter or even spend an hour or so editing previous chapters. Usually, while I am working, or more typically, when I am on a break doing chores or just chilling, some solution will pop into my head.


When I get really stuck, I have a tried and tested solution. Archie is never far away from me while I write, and just taking ten minutes to drink some tea and scratch his ears is often enough to get me writing again.

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Andy C Wareing

Writer and illustrator. Born in the UK but now living in Atlanta. Find my books on Amazon stores worldwide.

Every day is a school day

I have been writing for a little over six months now. I had always wanted to write a book/novel but life (as usual) got in the way. I would always bitch about how poor some of the books I would read really were, and my wife would always tell me, “well then, write one better yourself.”

Well, I finally retired and tried to move from the USA to Spain during the COVID pandemic (look up the definition of disaster in the dictionary). It didn’t work out how we had planned but that journey prompted me to write about our adventures on that trip. The result was “Mistakes Were Made.” I self-published after not a single literary editor responded. I published through KDP and on the morning it went live I sat looking at the dashboard, refreshing the interface every five minutes waiting for the orders to roll in and waiting for Hollywood to call.

Ok – so I was ridiculously naïve. I knew not a jot about categories, blurbs and effective book covers. It sold a couple of hundred copies and I still get an occasional sale. It always gets good reviews, with the exception of one lady from the UK who called me “a little full of himself,” which might just be true!

I finished my second book, a paranormal thriller called “A Surcease of Sorrow” (still not sure that the best title, a little too esoteric I think), and self-published again on Amazon. Pretty much the same result except even fewer friends and family bought this one. I started to delve into what really sells books and began to peel back the layers.

I think this is where my real journey as an author has begun. I have ideas for books and after wandering through the genres a little I have landed on Sci-Fi. But the true work is that I have finally begun to unpick the deep mysteries of Amazon and Facebook advertising and the combination of pre-release launches, mailing lists, and the myriad support sites that can drain a wallet: Bookbub, Patreon, BookLife, Goodreads and Pubby to name but a few. With the website finally built and MailChimp integrated I feel like I am finally in a better place to support any future release. I even have a Tik Tok and Instagram account I don’t know what to do with, and don’t get me started on the nuances of Facebook and Tik Tok tracking pixels.

This is where the real work lies. It’s a shame in a way that it detracts from the time and pleasure of actually writing, but for the indie writer, it’s the game that has to be played. Every day is a school day as they say, and as my journey progresses it will be interesting to see where I am as an author in another six months. In that time frame, I will definitely be in a much better place to publish and support the release of my first Sci-F book, and for that, I am truly excited.

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A Surcease of Sorrow

Chapter 1

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping…

Three o’clock in the morning found me running through the deserted streets carrying only my cane and brown leather medical bag. The rain swept in curtains across the shiny cobbles, reflected the faint moonlight that peeked at intervals between heavy clouds. The wind from the harbor screeched, October cold, between the buildings of downtown. The gas lamps guided my journey; flickered luminance threw verdurous creeping shadows across the alleyways and shuttered glass frontages of the stores on High Street. My mentor and friend of the last twenty years lay in distress in the parlor of Gunners, a tavern on East Lombard Street, in Baltimore’s seventh ward.

I had been wakened only thirty minutes earlier by a frenzied banging on my door. A small shabby boy stood in the shadows of the stoop holding a penned note that summoned my presence to the inn. The note was addressed to me, Doctor J. E. Snodgrass and read:

“Dear Doctor Snodgrass, there is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Gunners who goes under the cognomen of Edgar, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.”

Edgar had been found only two hours prior, by the author of the note, a certain William W. Walker. Mr. Walker had found Edgar by chance, lying in the street outside the tavern, soaked, shivering and largely incoherent. Edgar was a stranger to him but thinking him a helpless drunk, and the weather being brutal, had taken pity and helped him into the sanctuary and shelter of the tavern to recover. Between his ramblings, Edgar had given his own name and had gladly retained sufficient wits to provide Walker with my name and address, Edgar’s only friend in the city.

By the time I had received the note summoning me to the Tavern, Edgar had been missing from the world for five days.  The last time I had seen him was in Richmond where we had dined at Saddlers on the Friday evening five nights prior. We had both eaten a late dinner and drank lightly, I enjoyed a small beer while Edgar sipped a tea. We discussed his trip to Baltimore where I would join him later in the week. Our conversation betrayed nothing of the coming events. He was light-hearted and spoke with excitement of his recent engagement to Elmira Royster Shelton, a childhood sweetheart who he had met once more, and by chance, in Richmond. Both she and Edgar had both been widowed within the last two years and he seemed happy with the prospect of his forthcoming marriage.

Edgar’s business in Baltimore was to secure some support that had been offered from several local editing companies to publish his works. Despite being a prolific and somewhat successful writer of prose and poetry, Edgar’s finances had suffered recently and the trip would hopefully prove to be a boon and a blessing for him. With dinner complete, we paid, split the checks and left sober. When he had left me to take the night boat to Baltimore, he had been in good spirits. He was dressed in his familiar, smart black wool suit, tall Regent topper, woolen scarf and black leather gloves. This evening he carried a smart silver topped Malacca cane I did not recognize. He was in a hurry, the hour was late and the midnight boat would set sail in forty-five minutes, and the docks were still a carriage ride away. At that time I had no reason to believe that I would not see Edgar in a day or so when we would meet again in Baltimore. I witnessed him step up into the carriage in the late evening mist that chilled our farewells outside Saddlers, I saw his arm wave goodbye, his carriage rounded the corner onto Hill Street and he was gone, vanished and not to be seen again for five long worry filled days.

I arrived at Gunners, winded, out of breath, cold and soaked to the skin. In my haste I had only thought to don my frock coat and it hung off my shoulders and shed rainwater around my feet. The door of the tavern was locked but I could see gas lights were still lit within. Banging on the door roused the landlord, he started at my appearance, as was typical. He was high-colored and angry at both the inconvenience and the hour. After a brief conversation and confirmation of my credentials, he allowed me entry, influenced at least partly, to be done with this unwanted business and get to his bed. The tavern was mostly empty at that hour with only a few smoky gas lights that offered illumination. The landlord introduced me curtly to Mr. Walker, the sender of the note, who had kindly waited for my arrival. He was tall, with friendly blue eyes and animated eyebrows, aged perhaps thirty, well dressed, bespectacled and sporting a neatly trimmed and fashionable Van-Dyck beard. He led me past the bar, littered with glasses and bottles, remnants from the earlier carousing, and into the shadowy parlor located in the rear of the establishment. Walker was animated and excited by the events of the evening. He recounted his tale of stumbling across my friend outside the tavern and helping him into the shelter. He talked quickly, chattering, concerned about both Edgar’s disheveled condition and his disturbed mental acuity. Despite his amenable and expansive demeanor, his words and expression carried more than common concern for a fellow man laid low by some random happenstance, his voice modulated by a timbre of dread.

“Your friend has been saying the strangest things, mostly nonsense for certain, but he speaks of anguish and despair and dark things to be dreaded; I am a man usually blessed with a light heart, a man of science, but I admit his speech this night has disconcerted me.”

The parlor was low ceilinged, dimly lit by a single guttering gas lamp, the creaking cheap pine floorboards spoke of a century of spilt ale and spirits, nauseous at that hour and circumstance. We found Edgar recumbent on two stained dining tables that had been roughly pulled together. The expensive Malacca cane I recognized, it was still by his side, but paradoxically his own clothes were missing. In place of his expensive suit he was now dressed in an ancient stained and tattered bombazine coat ripped at several of its seams, badly fitting black alpaca pantaloons of a similar character, a pair of coarse worn-out and muddy boots run down at the heels, and an old, tattered and ribbon-less palm leaf straw hat.

He was conscious still but muttered quietly to himself, as Walker had predicted, mostly gibberish and nonsense. His usually clear expression was furrowed and grim. Bruises ran across the right side of his face, the side closest to me and Walker, fresh contusions that still bloomed purple and black. His normally groomed and Macassar oil slicked black hair was filthy, wild and tangled. He held his hands in front of his face, repeatedly opened and closed his stained and dirty fingers and occasionally scraped and swiped at his brows as if to swat away some annoyance. His eyes were closed but as I leaned in to better hear and perhaps decipher his incoherence, his body turned slowly toward us, his left eye snapped open, bloodshot sclera with dilated ebony pupil stared wide and intently into a space behind me. A breeze from the casement window flickered the lamp and a chill descended on the room. One blackened finger uncurled a broken nail and followed the gaze that pointed a warning over my shoulder. I turned slowly to look in the direction of the staring eye and pointed finger. In the very fringe of my vision I perceived, rather than saw, a greater blackness within the darksome of the corner behind me, a vagueness that slithered and crawled across my senses. The hairs prickled on my neck, my heart raced and my eyes and ears strained to focus on the movement in their periphery. My body released adrenaline and shortened my breath to a gasp as I fully turned to face the corner; a form, dark and indistinct still lingered there, moved, writhed slowly on the edge of my awareness. As I stared, eyes wide, about to shout and raise the alarm, the shape dispersed, flickered away in the jumping shadows created by the fading lamp, revealed nothing more than an old footstool that leant against the filthy ale soiled corner of the wall behind us. The feeble swinging light from the gas lamp fooled the unreliable and limited evidence of my own senses. My tiredness and the events of the night had intruded on the practicalities of my perception for the briefest of moments.

I turned quickly back to Walker who was still chattering his animated tale without care. He seemed completely unaware of my confusion and agitated state so I shook my head to clear my unsettlement and turned my attention back to Edgar. Poor Edgar had fallen back to the table, barely conscious. He trembled as if in the beginning of a seizure so I asked Walker to quickly help hail me a cab to take us to the local hospital. Walker immediately donned his greatcoat and rushed back outside and I helped Edgar slowly and uncertainly to his feet. The landlord, whose demeanor had not improved, followed us from the parlor and watched us with a grave expression as we stepped out into the rain just as the Hansom turned the corner, a clatter of hooves on the black slick cobbles. He slammed the door behind our backs, pleased and perhaps relieved to be done with our business. From the street we could hear him shout a brusque and unnecessary, “Good night and good riddance!”

Latest book release now available

“A Surcease of Sorrow” is now available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. Also available on Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and others.

“On the night of 3rd October 1849, the poet and author Edgar Allen Poe was found, raving and in clothes not his own, outside a tavern in Baltimore’s seventh ward. He had been missing from the world for five days. In 19th Century America, two magical orders are at war. Doctor Carter leads the fight against the Dux de Obscurum, the Commanders of Darkness, who seek to snare demons in their sinister plot to seek dominion over the earth. In an effort to uncover the truth behind their friend’s mysterious disappearance Doctor Snodgrass and Captain Walker find themselves unexpectedly embroiled in the fight. Confronting witches and demons, Furies and sinister henchmen, the two friends meet unforeseen foes and fortuitous allies. Pursued relentlessly by the sinister and powerful cabal, not everybody is who they seem to be, and they try desperately to survive a world that imperils them both, a world that transcends nature. Will they be able to return to Baltimore with the truth, and in time, to save the soul of their friend?” Download it here:

books2read.com/surceaseofsorrow

About to publish my latest book….

My second book (first novel) is about to be self-published. The book is a horror story set in 19th century America, based around the true but mysterious last days of the poet Edgar Allen Poe. Still working on final formatting and synopsis but thought it would be good to share the draft book cover and title. Thoughts please my friends?

Great twitter feed

This is a great twitter account to follow. Suzie Dent is a lexicographer and host on the UK show Countdown. She posts a “word of the day,” usually unusual, archaic or just interesting. Give her a follow!

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