1st or 3rd person?

My first book, “An Illusion of Peace“, was written in the first person, following the events of a small team fighting aliens, told through the eyes of their leader. As such it was all first person. I turned out quite well, if I say so myself (which I just did).

The second book in the series has a wider range of characters and two distinct story arcs. Much of it had already been written before I had even started on the first book, for various reasons that may, or may not, become apparent at some point in the future. Thus far the draft is in the third person, probably the more usual format for a novel of this genre and structure. But I very much enjoy writing in the first person and have been debating with myself whether I can apply it to the new book.

Would readers cope with a novel written from the point of view of 3 or 4 characters, across two story arcs? I am thinking that each chapter would have the name of the point of view character at the top. It might be difficult to do effectively. It would certainly be fun to try. It could either end up a mess or an interesting way of describing the events of the book, to be called “Surfacing event”.

I guess I will attempt a re-write on the draft and see how far down the rabbit hole it goes. Wish me luck!

Weekend October gardening

We are enjoying a brief October warm spell in the UK and, despite not being a terribly keen gardener, I was out in the low autumn sun cutting back weeds, pulling up stinging nettles and generally tidying up before the winter arrives. It seems that to have a successful, neat garden it is necessary to be out titivating every five minutes, least a weed appear in an otherwise pristine border, or a squirrel attempts to dig a hole in the lawn. I must admit that I am OK with a bit of disorder in the garden, and am quite keen on squirrels, especially if it means I can spend more time writing, going out for a meal or generally enjoying activities that don’t make my back hurt. Gardening seems to be the ideal way to ache. Why does everything have to be at ground level?

When I write, I sit on a nice comfortable chair with my keyboard and monitor ideally positioned for ease of use. Perhaps I need a garden at desk height, preferable in the warm, and sheltered from the rain. Each spring I do have a little burst of enthusiasm for gardening, but fortunately it soon goes away, even without counselling. Maybe when I retire a keenness might suddenly emerge for the garden, but since my calculations indicate that I will only be able to afford to retire about 2 years after I die, that is less than likely.

In search of reviews

As my new ebook reaches the dizzying heights of three whole sales, and I debate what to do with the £1.05 royalties, I am on the search for some honest reviews to appear on the Amazon site. Hopefully the reviews will be good, but if not, they will at least be useful as feedback on my writing.

But how to obtain them? My current plan is to switch it to free for a few days and reach out to known reviewers on Reddit, Twitter and wherever else I can find them. I think the book is good, and hope that others will do so as well.

Writing a book is half the effort, marketing and getting it noticed is at least the other half, and not something that comes naturally to me. The skills needed to write a book and those needed for marketing and sales probably don’t have a lot of overlap.

(If you are wondering, the cash went on the bottom third of a very nice latte.)

In summary?

Now that I have finished my first book, I can concentrate more fully on the second in the series “Surfacing event”. But before I launch into that, I suppose I should consider whether to write a summary of “An illusion of peace” to place at the beginning of the second book.

This seems to be a common practice, especially in science fiction and fantasy series, but is it a good idea I wonder? On one hand, it does give a reader a reminder of events in a previous book; a book that they may have read some months or years earlier. On the other, does it mean that people will skip reading the first book since all the main points are summarised in the second?

As an aside, it always surprises me how the story of even the most complicated, convoluted, lengthy novel can be summarised in a fraction of its length without losing the main thread. It does show how much of most books is descriptive padding, but then a little padding can sometimes be the most enjoyable part of the reading experience.

I think that I will write a summary next, while the events of the first book are still fresh in my head. If I don’t use it, nothing lost, but if I have to write it later on I suspect it will not be so easy.

New ebook is now on Amazon

Well my first ever book is now up on Amazon as an ebook.

An illusion of Peace

Fun to write, hopefully enjoyable to read. The bumph:

Captain’s report:
I had expected it to be another false alarm. My team had wasted so much time on so many wild goose chases that I was fully prepared for yet another. In my darkest moments I had even wondered if we were wasting our time and aliens were purely the stuff of fiction. But this was different. Alarms popping up across our network, reports of explosions and deaths, and actual real alien creatures across our city, destroying and killing. Then there was an accident and I found myself actually linked to the aliens, pulled into a hidden layer of thought, simulated worlds and deceit. Could we fight back against so powerful an enemy? I didn’t know if we had the physical or mental capacity to resist. I didn’t know if I had the strength. But I had to try.

A small Investigatory team find themselves suddenly faced with an alien invasion of their city, unsure of what to do or how to survive. While the physical aliens are the threat, the solution might be found within their interlinking minds, with those trapped inside in simulated worlds and with hidden human abilities.

Book 1 of The Consonance series introduces humanity to a wider universe; to a universe less friendly that we had hoped.

Origin of “Footnotes”

Did you ever wonder why the thing we write at the bottom of a page is called a footnote? It is not as obvious as you may think.

In the middle ages, paper was not widely available, as WH Smiths was waiting for the letter ‘W’ to be fully invented. In the meantime people would write on all sorts of things; wood, stone, other people, sheep etc.

Vellum was the commonly used material, a form of animal skin, usually prepared after the death of the animal. Unfortunately, the best vellum was very expensive so most scribes had to use a cheaper form, which was considerably stiffer and prone to cracking. It was made from animals left out in the sun too long or those who had died without adequate insurance. As a result, this would not roll up very easily, and had to be written on while fully open.

Unfortunately, in the middle ages, every surface was, by law, covered in animal manure, except for in the monasteries and homes of rich people. As a result, the poorer people did not want to put their vellum on a surface to write, as it would become dirty. They therefore had to write standing up, holding the vellum up in front of them. One consequence was that taller people were able to write longer documents and couldn’t avoid becoming educated. They then became monks, but had to shave their heads since, as a result of being taller, they would keep catching their hair on the wall torches and burn to death.

Writing on the top part of the vellum was easy, but it got more difficult as they worked down the “page”, until they couldn’t hold the vellum up and reach the lower part at the same time. To deal with this, many people learned to hold the quill between their toes to write on the lower part of the vellum, leaving both hands free to hold the vellum steady.

From that we get the term “footnote” to indicate something at the bottom of the page written using the foot.

Interesting, if not entirely true. 

Video conferencing – advice

By now, we are all becoming proficient with conference calls. A few lessons have been learned and I have tried to distil these down to a few key points.  

Check before the call:

  • Am I still in my PJs?  
  • Do I even wear PJs? (more important than point above). 
  • Am I reasonably shaved? (more applicable to male type people). 
  • Am I wearing a bra? (more applicable to female type people). 
  • If I need to stand up during the meeting, am I dressed all the way down? 
  • Are there excessive numbers of empty wine bottles in the background? 
  • If above is the case, do I know how to blur the background in Teams? 

Call etiquette:

  • Only pick your nose if your video is turned off. 
  • Don’t pick anyone else’s nose, even if your video is turned off. 
  • At the end of the meeting the correct sign off is “Bye, bye, bye, Ok… Is anyone still there?, Ok, bye, speak soon, bye”, click the off button. 
  • If the meeting is very long, turn your microphone on every hour or so just to make sure people know you are listening, and use one of the following phrases “Mmm”, “Yes”, “No”, “Makes sense”, “I want to die”. 
  • Don’t blur your background, it upsets the hidden stalker within us. 

Welcome to the site

It’s a busy world out there for an aspiring voice over guy with plans to write. Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest; more social media channels that you can shake an aspiring author at.

I have never had a personal website to advertise myself, well now I have, and here is the first post on said site.

I was born at a very young age, in close proximity to my mother, a little over 50 years ago. Between then and now I have not died, and, in the meantime, been a medical student, editor, cyclist, beekeeper and graphic designer, of sorts. 

In the latest development in this particular life story, I have been narrating and producing audiobooks, and writing. 

Why start voice over work? It started in my current “proper” job, when they needed some voice overs for educational material, and assistance in producing audio material. Following that enjoyable experience, I built a home recording booth, got a decent microphone and software, and recorded audiobooks, now up for sale on Audible.com.

It is not a quick process. For every hour of finished material, editing can sometimes take up to 4 hours. The human mouth can make a whole variety of noises that should not end up in a professional audiobook. Despite that, it is such fun to learn characters from the inside, to voice them, and to really bring them to life.

As for the writing, there is a saying “Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay”. Maybe that is the case for me, but until I extract some writing, give it life and publish it, how will I learn whether the world is ready for me? Ultimately I hope to write a book and produce the audiobook myself, but I also hope to win the lottery and live to be 130. While the last 2 might be tricky, the first 2 might be within my power if I try. So, here I am trying!

I have been producing a story in a serial format for work colleagues and friends, as a way of trying to keep myself and them reasonably sane during the lockdown. It has gone down quite well so far, and an additional reason for setting this site up is to allow me to tidy up the story, pull it together and publish it more widely. I will put it up in a dedicated post, and add each episode to a static page on the site. If you like it, or have any comments, please let me know. 

I also have an interest in exploring the lesser known, if not necessarily true, history behind common sayings and objects. My thoughts on the subjects might also appear on this site, but will definitely fall under the category of “fake news”, so beware! 

So, that’s me, audiobook voice over talent, aspiring writer, relapsed cyclist, and generally interested in life. If I can be of service to you, if you have any comments about anything on this site, if you would like a bit of advice on voice over work, please contact me, and enjoy the posts.