Saturday, 29 October 2011

The 'Black Flag' Keeps Flying...

Somehow, Chaz's first (and, to date, only completed) graphic novel 'The Black Flag' continues to be FWB's best-selling book on Amazon UK - currently sitting at #2 and #3 respectively in the charts for Fantasy and Sci-Fi in the Graphic Novels Kindle chart.

Ironically, it's also the one book in the whole FWB catalogue Chaz has actively promoted the least, since it's a) over 10 years old and b) Chaz is still a bit scared how well graphite pencil art and small comic-book lettering will actually show up on a Kindle reader. It's also the most expensive in our Kindle portfolio (but it did take five and a half years to complete). But going on the basis that no news is good news, and that nobody has complained loudly at him yet, long may it continue ;-)

For UK readers, the Kindle book is available here.

For US readers, the Kindle book is available here.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Prey for Us - a New Animated Series

Here's something dark and creepy from the FWB stable in time for Halloween - involving monks, madness, magic and medieval machinations...this is the pilot episode for a new (occasional) series of short films. Things start off badly for the monks at Navarre with a case of suspected demonic possession, but following a failed exorcism, the Holy Officers of the Inquisition are summoned to tidy up the mess...and then the real horrors begin...

This started life as a comic strip over 10 years ago, when Chaz and Frang were working on the first issue of Yokelore, a fantasy/sci-fi/horror comic which never got past the first issue. Chaz kept hold of the idea of a gang of creepy monks, and eventually the project has begun to see the light of day.

Here's the Youtube link to the pilot episode, which sets the scene and introduces Tacitus, the scribe and narrator of the tales.

An illustrated e-book, based on the series, is now also in production.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Wish & the Will's No. 1 Fan Writes...

Fellow writer and publisher Alison DeLuca recently read the first three episodes of the series to date, and enjoyed it so much she decided to blog about it, right here on her site.

Thanks a lot for all your support, Alison (readers, be sure to check out her other blogs, too).

And in the meantime, here's something brand new - a sneak preview of the art for the cover of Episode 4, featuring Loxxi, Mr. Sundancer, and a pseudo-steampunk'd Gatling gun. Chaz isn't making any promises (due to other projects and ongoing commissions) but he hopes to have the text-only Kindle version of TWatW available before the end of the year.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Wish & the Will a Fan

Recently, I ran a giveaway competition over at Natasha Larry's blog. Fellow writer and blogger Alison DeLuca won the competition to receive a bunch of digital Wish and the Will goodies - and she liked the first episode so much, she has just posted her review of Episode 1 on

Getting reviews for the series hasn't been easy to date, due to the serialized nature of the episodes. It looks as if Alison's become the No. 1 fan of WatW so far. She's even planning a blog post of her own about the books very soon...

In the meantime, be sure to check out her blog and her works.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Proof Editor's Survival Checklist

Editing, schmediting, eh?

Yes, it can be a pain. But it's an essential one.

Let me start with my favourite author's quote, by Hemingway: "You never regret cutting anything out of a novel". And I never have, either – I probably have several novels' worth of excised material that wouldn't even make it into the most self-indulgent “director's cut”. Everyone edits a different way - I usually just bash down words first and then go back (repeatedly) and chip away, or add arms and legs, in what I call 'sculpturing' the writing.

Here's a few things I'd advise every writer to aim for in their editing:

i) keep it tight: don't waffle, stay on track. Don't do tangents. Consider 2 or 3 brief sentences over 1 long one. If you're stuck over a particular passage, try recording yourself reading it aloud, play it back, and see how it sounds then.
The ear (or indeed, the voice) often picks up on things that the eye doesn't.

ii) consider your vocabulary. Who's your audience? Are they likely to feel insulted, or intimidated, by your choice of words? That is, don't pepper your prose with Graeco/Latin highbrow terms if you're writing simple general fiction, or 'dumb down' either if you're aiming for a more sophisticated readership.

iii) avoid slang in the narrative voice - it's easy to slip it in, but it cheapens writing and makes it feel amateurish. Look out for it and kill it when you find it.

iV) cut down descriptive passages. Everyone writes them. But not everyone wants to read 'em. Readers need enough for the scene to be set, but not too much or they'll get bored and skim. Once they start that carry-on, you've lost them. On the other hand, don't skimp on setting - pick up on a few key points to suggest the mood, the surroundings, and how they relate to the characters. Be sure to consider all five senses - smells and sensations as well as sights and sounds.

v) Grammar, punctuation, spelling. Those three are so important, I'll repeat them: grammar, punctuation, spelling. Sounds picky, but it's not. Trust me, any serious pro editor/reviewer/book industry employee will bin anything that looks like it hasn't even been shown to a spell-checker. Ditto for paragraphing, layout, indents, etc. Reviewers will trash you for it - just check out some of the killer comments in the Self-Publishing Magazine (on serious, expensive ISBN'd books, not just typical Lulu fare). If you're aiming to be a pro, or stand alongside professionals, you have to look like you deserve to be there. Don't let down good writing and ideas by not tightening up the nuts and bolts.

vi) really READ what you've written. Don't skim passages, thinking “Oh, but I know this bit off by heart” - because you don't. If, like me, you tend to hammer out words fifty to the dozen to capture those valuable stream-of-consciousness seams of ideas, then chances are you'll miss out words, or even use the wrong word ('theres' and 'theirs' can often creep in unwittingly in a kind of subconscious word-association substitution type thang). Re-read such passages to death, to hone them and shape them to what they ought to be.

vii) dialogue. Less is more. Nothing reads more amateurish than two characters having a bitching argument for two pages which does nothing to either define character nor advance the plot. Yes, real people do talk like that, but as countless 'reality TV shows' over the years have shown, reality is actually incredibly boring. Drama, as Hitchcock said, is 'life with the dull bits cut out'. So identify all those dull bits, cut them out, and what's left ought to be a lot more interesting.
To see just how klunky and repetitive real dialogue can be, read the transcripts to JFK's tapes of the Cuban Missile Crisis meetings, or Nixon's Watergate tapes. Then watch one of the excellent movies based on those events, and see how completely different the dialogue runs.

Underground British Metal for Discerning Listeners

Underground British Metal for Discerning Listeners
Because Chaz is a fan of these guys and their music. Help support the British metal music scene!

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