Monday 30 January 2012

60,000 words in 28 days

It's the end of the month, which means it's time to look back and take account of the progress made towards completing my WIP. Sadly, I only managed to add some 2,500 words this month. So far, I have 80,000 words total, but I plan on writing an additional 120,000 before the 21st of December (You know, before the world ends and everything). So needless to say, I have some major catching up to do.

I was idling away on Twitter yesterday when David Gaughran tweeted something about a writing challenge on Kindleboards. The goal is to write 60,000 words in the month of February. That's about 28 days at 2,000+ words a day. Here's a link to the thread if, like me, you're interested in stepping up to the challenge:,98992.msg1552826.html#msg1552826

So what do you think? Can it be done, or are we all way over our heads? Personally, I think it may be just what I need to get me back on track.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Friday 27 January 2012

Divergent (Book Review)

Last year, two important things happened that currently dictate my reading habits. Firstly, I discovered that there was this apparently-popular social network centered around reading and discovering good books; needless to say, I joined Goodreads in a heartbeat. Secondly, I got my hands on a Kindle 3. Since then, the number of books I have read have increased exponentially.

I discovered Divergent when it was voted the Best Book for 2011 by readers on Goodreads. In retrospect, this is why my expectations for it had been raised considerably. The end result is a book that falls just shy of living up to that expectation.

Divergent is a coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old girl called Beatrice Prior. It is set in a dystopian Chicago, though the city itself is never referenced by name within the context of the book. In that city, following an unspecified historical conflict, its inhabitants are divided into various ideology-based factions. The main character is from a faction called Abnegation, where selflessness is promoted beyond anything else, which is why they have been designated as ideal for leadership positions. Another faction, Dauntless, promotes bravery, and they comprise the main law enforcement body amongst other things. The Erudite faction are known for their pursuit of knowledge, and are at the forefront of research and scientific development. The final two factions are Amity and Candor, known for their peaceful nature and openness respectively. Then there are those who failed to get into, or were rejected by, the other factions. They are known as the factionless and are comprised of the homeless, who are treated like the dregs of society.

As part of a coming-of-age ritual, eligible youths are asked to publicly declare their allegiance to one of the 5 factions. This is the only time they would be allowed to switch factions, after which they must spend the rest of their lives upholding their chosen faction's ideals, or risk being declared factionless. Beatrice plans on switching from Abnegation to Dauntless at this ceremony, and who can blame her, when her current faction insists on wearing their selflessness on their sleeves, with their drab, gray outfits and monotonous lifestyle; the Dauntless on the other hand are known for their excessive body piercing, tattoos, black leather jackets and train-hopping. That's a no-brainer, right? Well, following a test that was designed to make the selection process easier, she discovers she is something called Divergent. This not only means that she is not suited for any one faction, but that she is considered dangerous by authorities as well.

She goes ahead to choose Dauntless, and the better part of the book is spent following her rigorous training underneath the Dauntless headquarters. Friendships are forged and rivals/enemies made, and a love interest is even thrown into the mix. And towards the end, a vast government conspiracy is uncovered and successfully foiled, all standard fare for this type of book. But don't get me wrong, I quite enjoyed reading this one all the same, even though I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of a stronger resolution.

All that aside, I know this is just the beginning of something potentially monumental. What does it truly mean to be Divergent? Why is it considered so dangerous by the authorities? Where do the factionless live and what role would they play in the future uprising? What lies beyond the perimeter fences guarded by the Dauntless soldiers? These are just some of the questions I hope would get answered in Insurgent, the next book in the planned trilogy.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

2012 Academy Awards Nominations

Okay. I'm still a bit pissed so I'll just come out and say it: why, oh why, was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 not given a Best Picture nomination? I mean, there was an unused slot out of a possible 10, and that film was clearly a big hit among fans, critics and moviegoers in general. Over $1.3 billion in international box office receipts. A 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What more must a movie do to get some due acknowledgement?

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me confess that I am yet to see any of the 9 Best Picture nominees. So as it stands, I am presently rooting for no one. That should change within the month though. This is the one thing I love about awards season: seeing the difference between what you've been watching and what you should have been watching. Still doubt if any of these movies would justify Harry Potter's exclusion, but let's wait and see.

P.S: In totally unrelated news, I scored another interview yesterday. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday 23 January 2012

Reviews for The Mediator

After mailing out a gazillion submissions/review requests last month, the first wave of reviews for my book, The Mediator, have started coming in. Last week, I scored my first two reviews:

Literary R&R

Read it. Blog it.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Friday 20 January 2012

11/22/63 (Book Review)

The King of Horror is back. His latest book tells the story of Jake Epping, an English schoolteacher charged with a mission that could very well alter the course of history. Underneath a diner in Lisbon Falls, Maine, exists a portal that links to a specific date in 1958. Using that portal, Jake must attempt to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, the man responsible for killing President John F. Kennedy.

Right off the bat, the narrative opens with a glimpse into Jake Epping's mind (I've never been keen on first-person narratives, though I'll admit that this is one of those rare occasions where it works for me). But as you plod through the 800 or so pages, you begin to have a sense of just how long-winded that narrative tends to get. This is one rather long novel, and the problem with long novels is they scarcely successfully keep the ball rolling from start to finish. Needless to say, this one has its fair share of highs and lows.

The thing I love most about this novel is the way Mr. King was able to depict quite accurately American life in the late 50s/early 60s. You really get a sense of the amount of research that must have gone into painting that portrait. The fact that the action takes place within a historical context does nothing but further heighten the level of credibility. I've always held the belief that the decade I'd most love to experience was the 70s, what, with the disco music, afro hairdos and bell-bottoms. But after reading this book, I am not quite as sure.

I feel my sole criticism has to do with the length of this book. I said it before, but I'll say it again: this book is overly long. This was why reading it sometimes felt like a chore. The bulk of the novel follows Jake's day-to-day activities, which include buying classic automobiles, getting haircuts, gambling, running surveillance, directing high school plays, falling in love and of course stopping violent murders. But as the novel nears its climax, the suspense really racks up and you find that you can't turn the pages fast enough. All these things add up to a great overall experience.

Prior to this novel, the only other book I'd read by Stephen King was On Writing, a must read for aspiring writers. I guess it's high time I go back and read his extensive backlist. Long live the King.

# e n d

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Blackberry Blues

I've been off the internet for a few days now, and have been relegated to using my Blackberry to emulate the tasks I typically perform on the PC. Tried accessing blogger with the inbuilt browser, which turned out to be a dead end. Had to download Opera Mini, and even then, could only access it through the old interface.

I heard WordPress works like magic on mobile devices, and this is the first instance where I found myself questioning my decision to blog with Google's Blogger. Is it too much to ask for a dedicated Blogger app for Blackberry? Or at least a website optimized for mobile devices?

The closest the guys at Google have come to a solution is something called Mail-to-Blogger, using which you could make a post by sending it as an email to a specified address. Don't know how well this works, but if you're reading this post, then I guess it gets the job done. Now, time to rest my fingers; this keypad is killing me.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Wednesday 11 January 2012

A Short Rant about Walls and Sh#t!

I don't know whether it has something to do with growing up listening to all those Eminem records, but I've never really had a problem with profanity. Don't get me wrong, I rarely use colorful language myself. Well, at least not in public, and never in front of kids. But I've always wondered about people who claim to be overly sensitive to its usage.

The reason why I'm bringing this up is I've spent the better part of the past month going through the review policy of various book bloggers. A real time guzzler if you ask me. But if you truly want something (in this case some much-needed reviews), then you must be prepared to have that time guzzled. In all that guzzled up time though, I've learnt a few important facts.

Fact number one, old-school science-fiction thrillers aren't particularly popular in this day and age of all things paranormal romance. Fact number two, book bloggers are one of the nicest people in the blogosphere and the internet at large. And fact number three, a lot of these book bloggers still have a preference for paper-bound books, though that number is constantly dwindling (I hope).

Another important fact I've discovered, and this one is about people in general, is that we tend to build all sorts of walls around ourselves with our standards and expectations. I know we are all entitled to our various opinions, and I admit that I am as guilty as the next man. For example, I find it next to impossible to sit through a Nigerian home video. This is not to say that all Nigerian home videos are poorly made. Well, actually they are. But that's another story entirely.

I can understand someone showing a preference for paranormal romance, YA dystopian fantasies, or dare I say old-school science-fiction thrillers. What I don't get is someone rejecting to read anything that contains profanity, violence or Christian/religious themes. Are you seriously telling me that you're willing to forgo whatever satisfaction you might derive from a book due to the presence of such elements? Or that the presence of said elements far outweighs all other incentives to read such a book? If so, then there is something I am clearly failing to see here.

Monday 9 January 2012

Free Promotion Results for The Mediator

This past week, I ran a free promotion on Amazon (using KDP Select) for my book, The Mediator. This promotion ran between Wednesday and Friday. To maximize the potential of this three-day run, I contacted three (free) ebook listing blogs/websites, two of which responded and listed my book during the promo. Aside from that, I didn't do much else to promote the promotion, other than blogging and tweeting about it, which I don't feel had much impact on the final outcome, having less than 20 followers, half of which I know for certain weren't active on twitter during the period in question.

To begin with, my expectations had been set very low: I was looking to move around 100 units. And if the stars happened to align, I considered adding an additional zero to that figure. Well, I was surprised by the amount of units moved on the first day alone. By midnight Wednesday, the reports told me over 300 units had been downloaded. This caused my rankings to rise to the 1000s, eventually peaking at around #850. The following screenshot was taken just before I hit the sack for the day.

The remaining two days were nowhere near as remarkable. There was a steady decline in units moved on the second day, and a sharp decline by the third, and it became apparent that the ebook listings had been responsible for the initial surge in units moved. By the end of the three-day promotion, about 800 units had been moved, which isn't bad (I guess) considering the 3 units sold in the past three-weeks since publication.

Overall, I consider the promotion a success, if only because I have gained some much-needed exposure. Whether or not the 800 people who downloaded the book for free would go on to read it (and perhaps buy the subsequent two books in the series) remains to be seen. But at least I have succeeded in putting my name in the minds of these 800 people, which is the primary reason I'd put these books up on Amazon, to build some name-recognition by the time my current W.I.P. (and future releases) gets published.

Friday 6 January 2012

Guardians Playlist

I don't consider myself that huge a fan of the Twilight Saga. But I am indeed a fan of Stephenie Meyer. Not her writing, no, but rather her taste in music. It is this musical connection that has allowed my unusual enjoyment of the Twilight movies, a fact I revealed in my recent rundown of favorite albums for 2011. A few of my favorite songs and bands have also been featured on the playlists she put together when writing her Twilight books, whose messages transcend pretty well into her books.

And so, in like manner, I have decided to put together a playlist of my own. It is for my work-in-progress, Guardians and the Lost Paradise. If you need some background on the W.I.P. itself, then I suggest you check out this post. These are the songs that I feel capture the kind of emotions I am hoping to evoke through these books. I have just 10 tracks so far, and I am open to suggestions and further recommendations.

1. Spice Girls - Viva Forever
2. Taylor Swift - Enchanted
3. The Fray - Never Say Never
4. Coldplay - Violet Hill
5. Linkin Park - Shadow of the Day
6. Muse - Starlight
7. Hoobastank - More Than a Memory
8. Poets of the Fall - Late Goodbye
9. HIM - The Sacrament
10. Evanescence - Bring Me to Life

P.S: Today is the last day of my ongoing Free promo for The Mediator. So if you still haven't snagged a free copy, get one now while you still can.

The Mediator

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Special Offer: The Mediator

Today, it is my pleasure to announce that you can now get the first book in the Neuro series, The Mediator, completely free of charge. It's only for a limited time though. Offer ends on Friday (11:59 PM PST). So get your free copy while you can.

The Mediator is a story about a young lawyer who unearths a government conspiracy. It's a science-fiction thriller. Just think John Grisham with an Isaac Asimov/Philip K. Dick spin to it and you'll have an idea of what to expect. So. What are you waiting for?

P.S: Don't forget to tell a friend. And tell that friend to tell a friend.

Monday 2 January 2012

Goals and Resolutions for 2012

Happy New Year everyone!

Looks like we made it to the other side. Feels good, doesn't it? Well, many lives were lost in 2011. But yet we are still here. We must never forget to thank God for that.

Right. Now that we've put things in proper perspective, let's get on with it.

My sole resolution last year was to find time for reading books. This was due to the fact that I found myself reading 2 to 3 books a year, when I knew I should be reading 2 to 3 books a week. The thing is I've always been highly selective about what I read, only reading books by authors that I absolutely adore, or those highly recommended by friends and family. But even then, I always found it difficult to create time in my erratic schedule (schedule? what schedule?) for reading them. I got a John Grisham book for my birthday once that took me well over a year to get around to reading. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. This past year, I read just shy of 30 books, which is a nice jump from the 2 I read the year before. So I guess that resolution was well met.

This year's resolution is along similar lines. This year I plan on setting aside time each day for writing. I feel this is important because up until now, I'd only written when I could no longer bear not to, and this was typically at the expense of prior commitments. But ever since reading On Writing by Stephen King this past year, I can clearly see the folly in such an approach. Besides, its about time I make the transition from aspiring writer to actual writer. After all, three of my books are currently on Amazon. And what better way to meet this year's resolution than to align it with some very interesting goals.

Goal #1: Finish WIP
It's a series called Guardians and the Lost Paradise, and I have been working on it (on and off) since December 2006. It is a YA fantasy about a boy named Daniel, who dies in a car accident, but awakens in a mystical land called Eden, where the forces of good and evil are engaged in ceaseless battle. The story was originally conceived following some introspection: we had just experienced a death in the family and I found myself thinking about the afterlife. I started writing without really knowing where I was going, but quickly found that a tale of epic proportions was gradually being birthed.

I finished the first part of that epic tale around July 2007, making sure it ended with a solid cliffhanger. Over time, I saw the need for at least six subsequent parts, the third of which I completed early last year. Had to take a rather disruptive time-off to put that part down, but I'm glad that I did. My original plan was to query agents with these three parts (pitching it as a first volume to a possible trilogy), and I was only going to go back and write the remaining four if the story sold. But following a series of revelations, I decided I wanted to have the entire story done and published sometime before the 21st of December, 2012, you know, before the Mayan calendar runs out of days.

Goal #2: Self-publish it!
Obviously this goal is very much dependent on the previous one. But since I've at least written three of the proposed seven parts, I'm fairly optimistic about getting it done. And the only way to ensure that the books are out there within the twelve-month time frame is via self-publishing. With traditional publishing, the earliest I can hope to see it in print would be 2014 (and that's assuming I'd snagged an agent on my very first query, and he/she had sold the manuscript almost immediately). But by then we'd all be too busy swimming in a black hole somewhere.

I did pretty much all the work for my current titles. This time around, I plan on enlisting some professional help: editing, cover design, the works. Formatting I can still handle on my own, since I do have a deep understanding of HTML, being a web developer and all. But the editing I know I won't be able to bear: it sometimes felt like I was close to the point of insanity whilst self-editing my current titles. As for cover design, I know I'll definitely be hiring a professional. Worst case scenario, I'll shop around for some premade covers.

Goal #3: Be Happy (No matter what)
My final goal is in no way dependent on either of the previous two. In other words, whether I get to complete the stories or not, or the books go viral (and I end up selling truckloads) or I fail to sell a single copy, I'll still be content with the knowledge that I gave it my best shot. So long as I had some fun along the way. Because that's why we're doing it, right? That's why we write. Because we love what we do.

So what do you think? Is it a bit too ambitious, or perhaps not much of a challenge? I'll be chronicling my progress towards these goals over the next few months. So be sure to check back every now and then.